Joaquin Phoenix was a guest on Dave Letterman last night (watch the video after the jump), ostensibly to promote Two Lovers, but really to stay in the actor-turned-rapper character he claims not to have invented for Casey Affleck’s documentary. You have to give him credit, his schtick is really consistent – earnest but confused, sensitive, always wondering why everyone’s laughing at him. Early on, Dave (who doesn’t seem to be in on the joke) asks him about his beard.
DAVE: You look different than I remember. (laughter) You’ve got, uh, a nice beard going.
JOAQUIN: Yeah. Thank you.
DAVE: How is that, the beard?
JOAQUIN: (looking around) …In what way?
DAVE: Well, is it comfortable? Is it itchy? Are you pleased with it?
JOAQUIN: …I’m okay with it. …But now you’re making me feel weird about it.
And it goes on like that, with Dave trying to make jokes, Joaquin giving one-word answers and pretending to be offended, and the crowd laughing uncomfortably until it sort of comes to a head when Dave asks him to introduce a clip from the movie (4:35 of the video). Joaquin says he doesn’t know what the clip is, Dave implies he’s unprofessional, Joaquin gets offended, and Dave makes a crack, “No, that’s fine. I’ll come to your house and chew gum.” At which point Joaquin says, “That’s fine, I don’t have to chew gum,” and sticks it to the bottom of the desk (pictured).
Like the tag on his shirt, the gum-under-the-desk moment is one where I think you can tell it’s a joke because he took it one step too far. Nikki Finke even goes so far as to call it a “career-ending appearance.” But honestly, if you’d rather watch him promote a Gwyneth Paltrow movie than this, I don’t think we can be friends.
[Thanks to RoboPanda for the tip]