Road - Joaquin Phoenix gets blunt (sigh)
Let me stir up trouble. I hear tell you were a “producer”
on the film. But - and here’s the battle words - you really
didn’t do much or that’s what Mark
Joaquin: My role as producer is really as an actor that didn’t
get paid as much as he was supposed to therefore they offered
him a production credit. He agreed to it because he’s greedy
[laughter] and that’s essentially the story for me to be
perfectly honest. It’s not that I wasn’t paid well,
it’s just I wasn’t paid the crazy exorbitant amount
that I’d been paid before.
EMILY: You and Mark are great in this film. What do you like about
working with him?
Joaquin: He’s gorgeous to look at. No, Mark is really hard-working.
It means a lot to me. I think it’s something that I value
in other people. I think the best thing about Mark is there’s
such truth and authenticity in his performances. I’m always
surprised. I remember doing this scene with him and James
[Gray the director] had just come up with brand new dialogue
for him literally, as we’re walking to set. I had some as
well so, of course, I’m sweating and panicking and figuring
out ‘how am I gonna say this?’ Mark looks really comfortable.
Then we go to set and he absolutely, f**kin’ nailed the
scene. It was unbelievable to me that somebody could do that because
it took me a while to get anywhere. There’s a real truth,
something totally unpretentious about him. It just feels like
EMILY: Your character in this is really torn apart inside, trying
to choose between two worlds. Do you just love playing that kind
of conflicted guy?
Joaquin: Yeah. First of all drama is conflict. It’s just
that simple. You want conflict in the character. If not, I’m
bored to death. I don’t know a single person in life that
doesn’t have conflict. It’s a movie so they’re
like extreme versions of these things, these things that we don’t
necessarily experience in life and it’s a way to experience
and study it. I think, honestly, it probably just comes down to
being bored or not. Because I’ve been on films [playing]
‘regular guys’ and it was really f**kin’ tedious
and boring to me. I don’t enjoy acting enough to not want
to experience something that really affects things. Like if you
were a surfer, would you want to surf where there were like two
foot waves or ten foot waves? To me, the more dramatic stories
are more exciting for me to play or else I’d just [not do
it]. There’s too much other stuff that goes into it; the
make-up, the hair and the wardrobe and taking pictures and doing
press and all this s**t that I don’t really enjoy. It’s
not worth it to me without having an experience that would be
EMILY: You do seem to go to some very dark places in films. Are
you that tortured while making a film?
Joaquin: It’s like I’ve read some stuff about bands
and songs on a particular album and you find out that song is
written about his aunt or something and you’re like ‘hell,
I’ve been loving this girl because of this song. What are
you doing to me? It’s about your f**kin’ aunt?’
EMILY: Knowing kinda ruins the song, huh?
Joaquin: I think [knowing that] can potentially ruin the experience.
I wouldn’t really want to listen to that [knowing] that
the guy was thinking about what was for lunch. But, to be honest,
I’ve done a lot of scenes where I’m thinkin’
like ‘what the f**k is for lunch? I can’t wait to
get out of here’. Actors talk about being effected by stuff
and having dreams. If you go home and I happen to be in one of
your dreams tonight, I don’t think it’s because you
were like sooo affected by this, putting your heart and soul into
this interview. I think it’s just we were around each other
so I popped into your dreams.
EMILY: Good point. You and Eva
Mendes have a love scene in this. Were there a whole lot of
takes on that?
Joaquin: [grins]. I asked for seventy! But we did only got one
take. She said ‘we’re done. That’s it’.
Halfway through the take, she was like, ‘God we’re
done. I think you got it’.
EMILY: How was working with Eva?
Joaquin: It was great working with Eva. They were like ‘we
cast Eva Mendes’. I was like ‘great’. Then I
met her and we were walking to the hotel and there were all these
cameras and I was like ‘oh, sorry. I know, it drives me
crazy’. So, she walked one way and I went the other way
and they followed her! ‘Who is this woman?’ [we laugh].
But with Eva I was surprised. James and I would get together every
weekend throughout filming and go over the following week’s
work and figure it out and Eva was there every, single day. We
had to tell her ‘actually, we’re not talking about
anything you should know about. It’s just about Bobby [Joaquin’s
character]. You don’t need to know’ and she’d
be like ‘oh, okay’. You don’t really have to
come in on weekends. The fact that she wanted to and was willing
to do that, I thought was really good. I thought she was really
EMILY: Your character in this film runs a club and is comfortable
in the club scene but are you comfortable in that world? [note:
Joaquin’s brother, actor River Phoenix died of a drug overdose
outside The Viper Room club in L.A. in 1993. Joaquin made the
911 call]. Is that your scene, personally?
Joaquin: Do I feel comfortable? No, it’s not my scene but
I don’t think I have a scene is the trouble. I’ve
been to clubs. I went to these clubs in New York. I’ve been
to places like when I was in my 20’s in New York although
it’s changed quite a lot. I just think they’re awful.
It’s unbearable to me. I don’t like being in an enclosed
place with really loud music and a lot of drunk people. It’s
not my idea of a good time. So, [for this movie] I went and I
was talking to a lot of these people that ran clubs, going around,
looking in the back room and the offices, how they did it. It’s
just such a miserable life. Honestly, they’re there to like
five in the morning and then back at like three in the afternoon.
It just seems like a miserable life.
EMILY: Okay, so no clubbing. What do you like doing when you have
Joaquin: It’s terrible. No one ever believes me. I do nothing.
TV? I will say that I do very much like Discovery Channel which
I just watch a lot. There’s like four channels that are
like History, Discovery and National Geographic and I basically
just flip through those.
EMILY: You were Oscar-nominated for both Gladiator and Walk the
Line. How did the second nomination compare to the first one?
Joaquin: I don’t think it was much different. I still have
to go around, do a lot of things, wear the suit, say ‘hi’.
I really haven’t thought that way. I think I got out of
a lot of stuff the first time because Russell [Crowe] did everything.
I just really didn’t have to do it. And, I was working as
well. I was out of the country when Gladiator came up until the
Oscars but for Walk the Line I was here so they had me. I had
a few more things to do.
EMILY: You had a bad car accident in the Hollywood hills last
year but you walked away. It must have been scary. What do you
remember about that?
Joaquin: It was day. I remember that. So that’s a good start.
It was funny, I don’t remember being frightened at all,
just more like fascinated that I was turned sideways. I just heard
this German voice [director Werner Herzog was passing by and stopped]
saying ‘please relax’. I was like ‘I know that
voice. Is it God’? [laughter]. I was like ‘I am relaxed’
and he’s like ‘no. You must relax’
The car was tilted in such a way that, if I climbed out the passenger
side I thought that the weight would then roll it over [a cliff]
so I can’t go out that way. And then this guy opened the
very back door and it wasn’t Werner. I crawled through and
said ‘thanks very much’ and I turned around and Werner
was long gone. Then I smoked [standing] next to the firemen.
EMILY: Okay Casey is your brother-in-law [married to Joaquin’s
sister Summer]. Do you get together with Ben and Jen and go to
Joaquin: [Waves his arms in the air] The Phoenix/Affleck party!
I gave myself first billing. No, we don’t get together for
parties but I go over and visit my sister and my nephew and my
brother-in-law. We were spending Christmas together.