Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix has made quite the spectacle of himself the past two years or so. Surprising many, the star of “Gladiator” and “Walk the Line” claimed he had “retired” from acting and was intent on becoming a hip-hop artist in the fall of 2008. It was unclear whether this was some sort of charade or a true artistic change of heart because Phoenix has always been a little off kilter to those who have worked with him. Still, in the months that have followed he turned down numerous lucrative movie roles in order to work on his music.
Hints that Phoenix’s behavior, which included growing out a long beard and wearing dark sunglasses at all hours, might not be legit first came to light after a bizarre appearance on “The Late Show with David Letterman.” Phoenix’s longtime friend Casey Affleck was on hand to record the moment leading to scuttlebutt that the actor’s behavior was all for a documentary or mockumentary project. Considering that Phoenix is now actively looking to return to acting, it appears the last 24 months was a long experiment in the former. Now, audiences and the entertainment industry will get to see what was really going on as Affleck’s new film “I’m Not Here” debuts in theaters on Sept. 10.
Magnolia Films announced today they had acquired worldwide rights to the film which they describe as “Sometimes funny, sometimes shocking, and always riveting, the film is a portrait of an artist at a crossroads. Defying expectations, it deftly explores notions of courage and creative reinvention, as well as the ramifications of a life spent in the public eye.”
While Magnolia is a legitimate independent studio, it’s also clear “I’m Not Here” may not be up to par if larger compaies passed on what could be a relatively inexpensive, out of the box hit. It’s also curious Affleck and Phoenix, who have many friends and associates in the independent film world, could not get the documentary into any significant film festivals over the past year. The Sept. 10 date insinuates, at least at this point, it certainly won’t be at the Venice, Toronto or Telluride festivals.
Phoenix has not committed to an new upcoming projects, but reportedly considered replacing Edward Norton as the Hulk in “The Avengers.”