Who is Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix has been in and out of my life for many years.The first time I sat down with him, Phoenix was an unknown actor and it was for the film Inventing the Abbots. I found him pleasant, cordial and handsome. I figured that would be the case in the future, but I was so wrong. He is very comfortable playing conflicted, insecure characters with a dark side and I wonder if some of his characters took over moments in his life when he wasn’t looking. I never knew when I would be given an interviewing assignment so every time I sat down with him it was like starting over again, as these jobs were on press junkets, I was one of fifty journalists who was there to ask questions and I didn’t expect him to know who I was and even care. I expected him to act. Let’s face it, he is an actor, glad to be there promoting his latest film. Each interview got harder and harder and I really tried to make him feel comfortable so we could have a conversation which was my style of interviewing. Things happen when you least expect it so I was really unprepared to run into him at the Cannes Film Festival when I went to interview James Grey, the director of the film The Yards, in which Joaquin was the star. Here he was hanging out at the interview site even tho he did not have do any interviews. While my TV crew was setting up for Grey’s interview I said to Joaquin how much I enjoyed his performance and the film. He said to me “would you tell my mother over there that”, and I said “ok”, which I did. So when I was given the film Ladder 49, little did I know that my brief meeting in Cannes would come in handy. I arrived at the press junket to be told by the studio executive that I could fail, as no one was getting an interview with Joaquin longer than 2 minutes and all he would say was yes and no because one of the stupid journalists who went before me asked him about his brother dying on Sunset Blvd. The journalist asked whether he called 911 like the characters in this film did and he went ballistic, which I didn’t blame him for, as that was an inappropriate question to ask. By the way if I did not get a usable interview I would not get payed. So I entered the interview suite knowing what to expect, failure. I walked in threw my arms in the air and said in movie star affected voice “Hello, you don’t remember me, I saw you at Cannes and told your mother how great you were in The Yards”, and then…silence. I started the interview and he talked in fact he talked for 16 minutes and when it was over he turned to the camera man behind him and said, ”Did I just do that”. He did and I never told the studio how I got him to talk… just a little mother love. That was the last time I interviewed him and to tell the truth I miss his off centered approach to promoting his films as he made me work hard to get an interview worth listening too. But he was always worth the effort!

Nearly Famous: tales from the hollywood tenches



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