Joaquin Phoenix gave one of the most uncomfortable interviews in late-night history when he mumbled his way through an appearance on Late Show with David Letterman. “Well, I’m sorry you couldn’t be here tonight, Joaquin,” the host cracked at one point. It turned out to be a stunt for the art film/performance piece I’m Still Here, and Phoenix later apologized to Letterman (“I hope I didn’t offend you in any way”), which is why I genuinely can’t tell if what happened on Tuesday’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! was genuine.
Around 8:28 in the video above, Kimmel plays a behind-the-scenes outtake from Joker, where Phoenix can be heard complaining about a cinematographer named Larry for whispering and calling him Cher. “The constant whispering, just shut the [bleep] up dude,” he begins (I’m transcribing the swearing as “[bleep]” because it’s hard to tell what some of them are. Mostly “f*ck,” though.) “I’m trying to like find something real. [bleep] dude. [bleep]. Sorry, [bleep]. It’s not a big deal. It’s not a big deal. Yeah, it kinda is. [bleep]. I know you started the [bleep] Cher thing, Larry. [bleep] making fun of me. Like I’m a [bleep] diva. It’s not even an insult. Cher, really? Singer, actor, dancer, fashion icon — how’s that a [bleep] insult? [bleep] I can’t do this, man.” He then walks off camera.
It’s more likely than not a fake clip, with Phoenix and Kimmel both being in on the joke (it’s been suggested that the stories about his storming off set are a marketing ploy). But Phoenix’s visible mix of embarrassment and annoyance does look pretty real.
Then again, he is an Oscar-nominated actor, so…