Joaquin Phoenix on Letterman: Real or hoax, that was good TV

Joaquinphoenixletterman_lFinally, FINALLY, this "Joaquin Phoenix the eccentric rapper" thing is starting to make sense. It’s still impossible to determine whether it’s serious or a big put-on, but after his appearance on Letterman last night, at least it’s become entertaining. Walking out in a suit, shades, and the full hobo beard, Phoenix sat with Dave for about 10 minutes, chewing on a piece of gum and stumbling and fidgeting his way through an interview in which he failed to have more than two-word answers to the most basic of questions. Phoenix seemed genuinely befuddled that Dave asks about his beard, his decision to leave acting, and his latest movie, Two Lovers, and appears actually confused and hurt that Dave, and the crowd, refuse to buy into the insanity of it all. It’s humorous at first, and the audience laughs (nervously, at times) every step of the way, prompting Phoenix — again,surprised that he’s beingtaken as a joke — to ask Dave of his audience, "What do you gas them upwith?"

In the beginning, it seems Dave — certainly no stranger to the put-on game — must be in on it. But by the end, the routine takes on an air of brilliant squirm-inducing Andy Kaufman as Phoenix is no longer just confused but angry that he is being asked all these questions (on a late-night talk show, mind you) and being made fun of when he barely answers. Dave will have none of it, finally shooting out, "Yeah, I’ll come to your house and chew gun." So Phoenix slaps the wad under Dave’s desk just before they kick out to a clip the actor-rapper refused to set up. At the end, Dave quips, "Joaquin, I’m sorry you couldn’t be here tonight." For the record, I still think the whole thing has to be a joke. But whereas I found the rap performances to be simply unwatchable, after the Letterman appearance, I can definitely see how this could be a fun ride.

Anyone else entertained by Phoenix’s Letterman interview last night? Can this possibly be real and he’s at a point where the basic concept of a talk-show interview befuddles him? Does it matter either way so long as we’re entertained?

More Joaquin Phoenix:
Ken Tucker: Joaquin Phoenix on ‘David Letterman’ : Huh????
Joaquin Phoenix’s rap career: An elaborate hoax?
Joaquin Phoenix’s publicist says his music act is the real deal
Joaquin Phoenix’s rap career: To believe or not to believe?

addCredit(“John Paul Filo/CBS”)

Comments (289 total) Add your comment
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  • Storm

    Funny as hell. After all these years Dave is still the late night master. I don’t think JP was in and it. It truly looked like dude was on some kind of substance. Too bad for him, but fun viral video for us.

  • Justin Clement

    Yeah, that’s a hilarious talent.

  • Theo

    Anyone who has seen Phoenix on previous promotional tours…i.e. flirting with Diane Sawyer, sucking up to Regis…knows the guy knows what’s expected on talk shows. If it’s not a badly executed hoax, then I fear he may be on the track that took his brother River.

  • d


  • Nill

    You have to admit that Letterman has one of the best abilities to fill-in any uncomfortable moment with hilarious comments. There are definitely some screws lose with Phoenix, but I would pay GOOD money to know what Joaquin said to Dave right after interview was over…I bet it was interesting. If anyone has any ability to find out and post that would be most appreciated by us all.

  • Lynn

    I too was torn…hard to tell if it was a hoax or if it was real. I laughed along as a viewer with the audience at first, but then it did get squeamishly uncomfortable…and I started to feel bad for this amazing talent who could potentially be in a very bad spot in his life.

  • Amused Viewer.

    I’m watching it at the moment (in aus) Letterman is just tearing him up what a freak!!! Haha this is just amazing. I hope the rap thing goes good for him………..:) haha

  • Anonymous

    How rude of that guy only letterman was funny I was more embrased for him

  • Jake

    Letterman is such a great comic talent, he made a ten minute interview with barely a word said funny and entertaining.

  • Jason Biggs

    this must be some sort of jew comedy.

  • jon

    Mr Bruno,
    Tv sucks for the most part and you are easily amused (dare I say). What struck me about this segment (which I watched reluctantly – only at your urging) was the fact that Phoenix chose a stupid character to play. I have just figured it out…. The reason so many hollywood films suck is because the actors (who very often are stupid themselves) don’t have the capacity to play smart multi dimensional (and dare I say again) believable characters.

  • Jeff W.

    It’s so obvious that this is a hoax! He’s an actor, remember? A good actor. Unless he suddenly developed a personality disorder my guess is that he’s copying the old Andy Kaufman schtick. It’s such an over-the-top seachange in personality that it can’t possibly be real. I found the Letterman appearance to be more annoying more than anything else.

  • Darci

    I was so excited to see Joaquin Phoenix on David Letterman just now. I’m sad to say my heart kind of broke for the poor man – he seem’s so messed up. If it IS a hoax he is even better an actor than I ever gave him credit for – I was truly un comfortable, in the end.
    Though I would also pay good money to know what he said to Dave at the end…damn.

  • hot4teacher

    Storm is right, Joaquin must be on something, he really seemed to be off his head.

  • Jeff


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