Joaquin Phoenix Is (Still) Still Here

Rebounding from a movie that pissed off and confused America, the actor gives one of his best performances in Spike Jonze's Her

"The environment on set was very intimate. Everybody respected and was affected by what Joaquin was doing," Jonze says. "When we'd cut, the set would stay quiet. That's really special."

Phoenix, of course, brushes off compliments. "As long as you're not visibly shaking in front of a camera, anyone could give a great performance with the right script and the right director." He saves his praise for the cast of the new Star Trek, a film he adores, calling their work "fucking brilliant."

He insists, "It's even more difficult to stand with a half-made, fake-ass fucking set with some weird fucking wig and say a bunch of technical dialogue and not have the benefit of people going, 'Well, this is important work, so let's give it its space.' Everyone's going, 'C'mon, jerk-off! Let's do this!' "

Phoenix rising?
Amanda Demme
Phoenix rising?
Peeping Tom in reverse
Amanda Demme
Peeping Tom in reverse

Maybe he'll do a blockbuster like that someday. Maybe he won't. "I love comedies, and I love action movies," he says. For now, he again feels like an actor who's confident about his options.

"I'm sure there were times when I went, 'Oh, fuck, it's going to be hard to do the movies that I want to do after this. Am I going to be battling this shit?'" Phoenix admits of his I'm Still Here experiment. He shrugs. "But you're always battling some shit that you fucking said, so it doesn't really make a difference."

To prove he has mended all possible fences, Phoenix's next film, The Immigrant, is by Two Lovers director James Gray, who has forgiven him for hijacking their last publicity tour. Did Gray make Hollywood's most unpredictable prankster pinkie-swear he won't pull that stunt again? "No, we didn't," Phoenix pledges, suddenly looking serious. "We didn't make jokes about that."

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