Casey Affleck: Joaquin’s breakdown all an act (updated)

Shouldn’t they have at least drawn this out until the film was out of theaters?

In an interview with the New York Times, I’m Still Here director Casey Affleck admits that the whole bearded-rapper-drug-addicted-sex-crazed thing that Joaquin Phoenix did for two years, including the infamous Letterman appearance, was all a piece of performance art.

“It’s a terrific performance, it’s the performance of his career,” Affleck says. And admittedly, by fooling millions, it was. But the whole thing was “gonzo filmmaking,” a Hunter S. Thompson take on the dissolution of celebrity. Affleck decided on the big reveal partially because “the reviews were so angry.”

Very little of the film was real. Childhood footage was filmed with actors and run through an old VCR to degrade it. One of the few real sequences is a childhood street performance, but the majority of it is a con that never really let on that it was one.

“There was no wink,” Affleck said.

Updated 9/18: Apparently, there was no winking from David Letterman’s camp, either, as seen from a year-old interview with “Late Show” writer Bill Scheft interview in indie paper Nuvo that The Hollywood Reporter‘s Lindsay Powers (or her researchers) found:

Nuvo: Tell me what it was like backstage after the Joaquin Phoenix appearance.

Scheft: First of all, that was all an act.

Nuvo: Even Dave’s part of it?

Scheft: Yeah. Think Andy Kaufman without shaving. That’s what he was doing. And Dave knew about it and Dave loved it because he could play along. He could do whatever he wanted with it. And he did, and it was great television. But I will take credit for the line, “I think I owe Farrah Fawcett an apology.” That line was mine. I gave that to him during the break.

Dave loves that. He had a ball. He likes anything that’s good television, and he knew that’s good television.

I’ve told people that [everyone was in on the joke], and not only don’t people believe me, they tell me that I’m wrong and that [Phoenix] is a schizophrenic and he needs help and he’s going to end up like his brother. I said no. I saw the segment notes. It’s an act. I saw Ben Affleck’s brother taping the whole thing from offstage.

Posted on September 17, 2010 at 19:59 by Lincoln Eddy · Permalink
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