Director: No One Was Worried Phoenix Had Gone Nuts

Casey Affleck tells Leno people "just wanted to mock him"

By Greg Wilson
|  Wednesday, Sep 22, 2010  |  Updated 9:30 AM CDT
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We now know Joaquin Phoenix's 18-month meltdown was all just a clever ruse to promote a weird and not particularly popular movie, and, thanks to Jay Leno, we also know that nobody was all that concerned about the "Walk the Line" actor's well being while he was in his lunatic mode.

Leno asked director Casey Affleck if he ever got any calls of concern while the world was being led to believe Phoenix had lost his mind. After all, Phoenix was a two-time Oscar nominee who had suddenly grown a Ted Kaczynski beard, taken to mumbling incoherently and insisting he was embarking on a new career as a rapper.

 

 "You know, I never did," Affleck told Leno. "Afterward, the movie comes out, the critics liked to say, 'This is crazy, this is disturbing, this is sick and we should be worried about him. But while it was happening, people were happy just to mock him."

Affleck and Phoenix are now promoting "I'm Still Here," the oddball pseudo-documentary the followed Phoenix while he appeared to send his career up in the smoke of cocaine, hookers and bizarre behavior..

They're calling it "performance art" now, but while it was being made, the pair believed they were punking the world.

"I wanted them to think it was real while they were watching it," Affleck admitted. "But I assumed, when it was over, they would understand that it wasn't real."

"We just wanted to make a movie that would help people kind of suspend their disbelief. They could go to the theater; they could experience it—sort of wonder whether it was real or not," he said.

"It's not a documentary, because all the people in the movie are acting ... A social experiment, if you want to call it that," he suggested. "I would call it a, uh, movie."

Tonight, Phoenix is set to appear on "The Late Show With David Letterman" for the first time since his dishevled and rambling February, 2009, appearance launched the project.

Selected Reading: TVSquad, E! Online, Washington Post.

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