Joaquin Phoenix Was Once Worried He Wouldn’t Find Work After His Method Acting for ‘I’m Still Here’

Actor Joaquin Phoenix once confused many in the film industry with his method acting for I’m Still Here. Although he was preparing for his role in the movie, Phoenix kept the true intention behind his attitude hidden.

The star was well aware he took a big risk by taking on the challenging project. So much so he was a bit concerned it’d be harder to find work after the movie.

Joaquin Phoenix starred in the 2010 movie ‘I’m Still Here’

Joaquin Phoenix posing
Joaquin Phoenix | Toni Anne Barson/WireImage

I’m Still Here was a supposed documentary directed by Casey Affleck following Joaquin Phoenix as he transitioned careers. In 2008 Phoenix announced his retirement from acting, and pursued a career in hip-hop. To make his dreams come true, Phoenix would later team up with Diddy to further develop himself as a rap artist.

Throughout this period, the C’mon C’mon star demonstrated what many perceived to be odd behavior. As many know, his 2009 interview with David Letterman further created questions and controversy surrounding him.

But it was later revealed that Phoenix was actually playing a fictional version of himself, with I’m Still Here being more of a mockumentary. Affleck wanted the media to act a certain way, so he and Phoenix kept the true motives behind Phoenix’s behavior hidden.

“The reason it was MADE without comment and with Joaquin in character when in public was because the media plays a role in the film and the media would not have played their role as well as they did had it been acknowledged that Joaquin was only performing,” Affleck once revealed in an interview with Roger Ebert.

Affleck didn’t really seek out to make a point with his film. However, he did feel his project had commentary aimed at the celebrity lifestyle.

“I don’t know the point. I only know that it is of course in some way about celebrity culture. It’s about fame, in some way. I don’t know what it says exactly but I know that it makes me wonder when I watch it. I’m OK with that,” he said.

Joaquin Phoenix thought it might be hard to find work after ‘I’m Still Here’

Both Affleck and Phoenix believed in the project so much that they were willing to accept the risks that came with it. For instance, Affleck funded the movie out of his own pocket. This later left the actor broke.

“Having something at stake is a great motivator and once this thing became public for me that was very helpful because there was no question: I had to see it through, no matter how long it took,” Affleck once told the Film Industry Network. “I went broke. I hadn’t worked for more than a year, and I was pouring money into the movie. I had to stop for a month to do The Killer Inside Me. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to finish the film.”

Meanwhile, Phoenix felt there might be artistic consequences for doing the film. The Oscar-winner didn’t worry about others in the industry assuming he had a breakdown. But he did worry about the film’s possible impact on potential future roles.

“The only thing that bothered me was that it might be difficult for me to work again as I wasn’t retiring and I wanted to continue to make films. So the only thing that gave me pause was the fact it might really affect my career,” Phoenix once told Shortlist.

Joaquin Phoenix once felt ‘I’m Still Here’ liberated his career

I’m Still Here did affect Phoenix’s career, but in a more positive way. In a 2012 interview with Time, the Joker star opened up about how doing the documentary came with an element of freedom.

“Part of why I was frustrated with acting was because I took it so seriously. I want it to be so good that I get in my own way. It’s like love: when you fall in love, you’re not yourself anymore,” he said. “You lose control of being natural and showing the beautiful parts of yourself, and all somebody recognizes is this total desperation. And that’s very unattractive. Once I became a total buffoon, it was so liberating.”

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