A Normal Joaquin Phoenix Returns to Letterman – And May Get Sued

Published 5 years ago by , Updated March 3rd, 2014 at 6:44 am,

Late Show Joaquin Phoenix  A Normal Joaquin Phoenix Returns to Letterman   And May Get Sued

Joaquin Phoenix is still trying undo the potential damage done to his career over the past year and a half, while the actor was pretending to lose his mind for the sake of the mockumentary film, I’m Still Here.

Since I’m Still Here whispered into theaters (read our review HERE) Phoenix and I’m Still Here director (and Phoenix’s brother-in-law) Casey Affleck have been out in public trying to come clean about the stunt they pulled. Affleck recently did an interview confessing that I’m Still Here is totally fake, while Phoenix has been reportedly courting new roles, including a part in a Clint Eastwood film.

However, there is still dust kicked up by  I’m Still Here that has yet to be settled. Phoenix and Affleck not only tricked the public, they also hustled many within the Hollywood industry, including their fellow celebrities, assistants, PR people, handlers and, of course, Late Show host  David Letterman.

For those who don’t remember, a bearded and disheveled Phoenix appeared on Letterman’s Late Show back in early 2009, and the result of that interview became (and still is) a pop-culture sensation. To call the interview bizarre would be an epic understatement; the stunt led to months of speculation about whether or not Phoenix had truly gone mad, was on drugs or was faking, as well as many, many, questions about whether or not Letterman was in an the (hoax? Joke?).

If you haven’t seen it (and I can’t imagine many out there who haven’t) take a trip down memory lane to one of the craziest Late Show interviews ever conducted:

Now that you’ve been reminded of what it was like to see Bizarro Joaquin Phoenix on The Late Show, allow me to re-introduce you to the normal Joaquin Phoenix, as he reunites with David Letterman for the first time:

If you missed it, Phoenix did extended this formal apology to Letterman, while stating in no uncertain terms that the Late Show host had NOTHING to do with the hoax:

“You’ve interviewed many, many people and I assumed that you would know the difference between a character and a real person, so… but I apologize…I hope I didn’t offend you in any way.”

Letterman seemed to take the apology well: he jabbed at Phoenix with some harmless jokes, before the conversation  suddenly steered into the arena of legality.

Last time these two were together I came away questioning whether or not Joaquin Phoenix was truly insane. This time, however, I’m questioning whether or not David Letterman is truly expecting a payday from Phoenix and Affleck for their exploitation use of his persona and show, or if the legendary host is simply trying to make Mr. Phoenix squirm a bit. As we saw with that whole attempted blackmail scandal awhile back, David Letterman is not the kind of guy you want to mess with – and he’s certainly not afraid to air some dirty laundry in public.

Joaquin Phoenix A Normal Joaquin Phoenix Returns to Letterman   And May Get Sued

Bizarro Phoenix on Letterman in 2009

In the end, I don’t think Letterman will get too fanatical about his payback – but I do think he is a seasoned Hollywood shark (the late night wars with Jay Leno over the years proved that), and I totally believe that he would quickly and quietly secure some sort of payment from these two young actors who tried to kid one of the best kidders in the business.

Joaquin, Casey, I hope it was all worth it…

We’ll keep you posted on Joaquin Phoenix’s next career moves as the news roles in. Stay tuned.

Source: CBS

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  1. People talk about how talented of an actor Joaquin Phoenix is yet get offended when he proves it? It’s impressive that he was able to stay in character that well & I’d like to think that those dearest to him knew the truth of matters.

    As far as Letterman goes, he probably is entitled to some sort of compensation – as I assume talk show hosts who play themselves in movies do get paid.

    • Letterman was unprofessional in being Rude to Pheonix. That he did not know it was a hoax (which was in Poor Taste!)was not an excuse. I lost any Respect for him as a Talk Show Host.

      • A writer for “Late Night with David Letterman ” claimed Letterman was in on the hoax. Wonder why Phoenix said Letterman wasn’t in on the prank.
        Did the host tell the actor and he believed him….Or he didn’t feel like contradicting DL on the air.

  2. who cares, not me :)

    • You do too. :)

      • no, sorry i do not lol. never cared for him as an actor. his brother on the other hand was awesome

        • Aren’t there a couple of sisters too?

        • If you truly didn’t care then you wouldn’t have typed anything… or read any of the article, or watched the vids.

          But I don’t care either. Or do I?

          • I care that some well-to-do film makers can ape the rest of society and even the likes of Dave Letterman for some sophomor-ish pratt humor. One can only imagine that Mr. Phoenix will not be pullin an late nighters unsupervised with the P.Diddy any time soon. Great way to paint a stripe down your back and then roll over and play dead. Only time will tell if he has to pay the piper. Better put it in yer pipe and Smoke it Joaquin…. that or choke on it while it is goin down because I assure you that something will be going down at some point if you ‘mocked that many’ in the industry…

    • Some people might say that leaving a comment about not caring is the same thing as caring.

      Some people might say that…

      • you’re twisted Kofi LOL, but i like your articles well enough.

        • If you dont care why comment and why read the article.Thats call being a troll.Someone needs a life,asap

          • no, trolling is leaving a negativ comment. so what if he commented and didnt care? dont make a big deal out of nothing, the man can think what he wants.

          • So there is this thing called social discourse and many times people learn from it that which their Mommies and Daddies and other litter mates didnt teach them. It’s a process of becoming an adult where you begin to realize that the world is bigger than one Ego or some singular set of values. It boils down to tolerance of those whose opinions are well founded and worthy of improving current conditions with their inputs. Welcome to the 21st century Archie Bunker where’s Edith and the Meathead?

  3. I really don’t think this was fake..I think it really blew up in their faces and now Phoenix is trying to back peddle..I think Casey Affleck got involved unknowingly in this fiasco and is guilty by association..a casey affleck documentary? c’mon…Eat that crow phoenix..I hope Lettermen makes you sweat it out..

    • I think people are taking Dave way to seriously here. It all comes off as a joke to me.

      Anyway I’m very impressed with Joaquine here. It’s impressive for him to stay in that character for so long. I can’t help, but roll my eyes at people who still say they think it was real. I guess that just proves how convincing he was. Seriously though guys it was fake.

    • I wouldn’t put it past Letterman to try to squeeze $1M out of these guys, but the rest of your post doesn’t make much sense to me. This film was partly Casey Affleck’s idea, so how could he have not known about it? I think it’s far more likely that they got so caught up in doing something different and avant garde that they forgot to think about the ramifications of their actions. They probably figured that everyone would think their idea was just as cool as they did and give them a pass on shenanigans. Apparently, not so.

  4. You know, Dave wasn’t being a bad guy in the previous interview. . . but in that one he is being one. And because I believe he’s serious about it, he doesn’t deserve the money. I’m sure they could have worked something out privately had he not been a little child about the whole situation and just taken it with a grain of salt.

    Glad to see you’re mature, Mr. Lettermen!

    • Dave is not just representing his own image here… he is likely standing for all the doors that were opened for Mr. Phoenix based on who he was and how he was representing himself. Wasting someones time who makes a thousand dollars a minute or possibly more relative to the collateral of partnering ventures and associated commercial interests is risky business.

      For every minute that Dave had to sit there and stall and drag out corporate sponsored time there will be a little hell to pay. Mr. Phoenix might well end up as a hobo when this is done if he doesnt figure a path or loophole or ransom worthy of a king as a part of this ‘Ass U Me thing: Posing with David Letterman’ and then telling him that he should have known the difference between ‘in character’ and ‘out of character’ stunt work. Its not Dave’s job to take a lump.

      Pulling a stunt calls for a waiver if I remember correctly… Dave was offered no waiver. You dont see Ashton Kutcher Punk’d hittin Dave up and you dont see John Belushi still alive to talk about his adventures in the Punk World either which is what I kept thinking of the whole time as a part of the Dark Glasses and Suit thing. So maybe Mr. Phoenix will really have to learn the hard way that A Hollywood Guy Shouldnt Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood.

  5. If Letterman sues over this I think people should boycott his show… he wouldn’t have a show if famous people didn’t come on to promote there new movies and other projects… this should be looked at as helping the whole ball rolling so people are interested in watching his show… without these types of interviews his show would be lame and boring… take it in stride Dave, you are getting rich not because of your talent but because there is talent out there that people are interested in watching.

    • well its sort of 50-50, i mean people come there to also to promote their new films. and not everyone can do what he do, so dont judge the man. i really dont see why the big deal of him suing or not suing.. i dont think anyone would care that much to boycott his show.

    • We call it punitive damages and collateral loses…. you might call it consequences of a poor decision by someone who already tossed their career in the garbage by stooping to pull some Jerry Springer type dross in the cinema industry.

  6. Seems like Letterman is just doing this to take heat off some of the dumb things he’s done. I remember when he went on aired and apologized to Bill Hick’s mother for cutting one of his stand up routines out of the show and she didn’t sue him. He’s a tool. Give Coco his show lol!

  7. they did use the letterman show clips without any permission.letterman has a point and they did open them up to what happened.

    letterman may not be the bad guy here.

    • thank you….


  9. I don’t know to what lengths Letterman will go to to get a paycheck out of this, but I have a feeling that if he were truly serious about it, he’d be telling Phoenix via his lawyer, not on national TV.

    • it may be letterman with his brand of humor only.

      if he does take this to court i think he does have a case if he limits it to using a portion of the show in the movie without his permission.

      • Yeah,but at that point he’d have to sue youtube, this site or every other sire that used the clip. Its just kinda ridiculous to me to sue over it. But like you said it could be just his humor.

        • Youtube is free to watch. Joaquim and Casey are making money from what they did. But I hope Letterman doesn’t sue.

          • You youtube is free to watch but they still make money off of advertising. If they didn’t have videos to watch then no one would go to it and they would generate revenue.

  10. Haha Joaquin Phoenix is amazing. I kind of want to see his movie just because of this.

    Letterman should NOT sue him or Casey. Then, he would definitely look like an asshole. Casey Affleck already went broke because of this movie. But, I think Joaquin’s career is gonna be great after this little hoax.


    • Asshole isnt what I am thinking here. Corporate air time and sponsorship does ring a bell though. If Letterman does not sue then he is opening the door for a run of idiots across his stage and its not likely that he will be looking to make a killing but it is likely that he will smack them down.

  11. Letterman wont sue. That’s bullcrap. I dont think he was being serious about that. Besides Dave has plenty of money why should he even care.

  12. I really doubt that Letterman is going to sue them… I mean he thought he was “tremendous” in ‘Walk the Line’; still does.

    • What does Letterman thinking Phoenix was tremendous in “Walk the Line” to do with the lawsuit. What is the relevancy here? Please explain to me.

  13. First off why do actors appear on Leterman or any other show? To promote a movie. Whether the host is in on it or not they should know better. I think Letterman is just embarrassed that he wasn’t “IN” on it and so he needs justice of the modern day sort, financial justice.

    • look at it from a diffrent viewpoint.

      first of all having watched letterman when he was on local tv in indianapolis before he made it big on to now,what he said could have been his odd sense of humor.

      now if he meant to sue it is not about the being fooled on his show.it is about them using footage of his show in the mockumentary (this is important) WITHOUT HIS PERMISSION.if thats the case why is letterman the bad guy?

  14. My take on the lawsuit.
    WTF!!! Letterman suing Phoenix!!! Personally I suspect he’s kidding. At least he should be. How much money is he going to get? The movie made barely any cash. To use the cliche You can’t get blood from a stone.”
    OTOH if the Late Show host is seriously and since he is so rich I think it would be thoughtful of him to give what he won to charity. I realize he isn’t obligated to do this.

  15. Does anyone here understand that this is not just about Letterman but also about his sponsors and the industry he represents which has just been taken for a ride by one of its ‘hard luck case’ kids. Lohan is getting smashed for being a dummy in the media and its likely that Phoenix will well in his own way from the industry that spoon fed him with the best of the best.

    He may have earned his role as Cash and he might have been the only guy for Gladiator but he is now facing the fact that his misuse of favors and professional credibility has now become a matter of co-opting a corporate product within a feature length film. World Wide Pants is not just Dave Letterman as much as you folks would like to make it out to be.

  16. PS. Note to readers….My computer sucks and often changes words/grammar and syntax as a part of having a hyper cursor… When I send I seldom know what will result…. fortunately I am not using other peoples products without permission and thus will fear no legal liability from jumbled or garbled statements… carry on!

  17. i beleive by him coming clean, and saying it was a hoax was an attempt to get himself out of a rut that he dug himself into by filming his life, and counting on fate to lead him to even more success as a rapper. He embarrassed himself world wide, so of course he is going to say it was a hoax. he should of stuck to the truth and just said, “no i was expermenting as an artist and things didnt work out so i filmed it in hope to catch myself convert to a legand rapper but it didnt happen but im glad i could share the experiance.” thats what he should of said instead of “oh no we tricked you”and a word for Joaquin Phoenix JUST COME CLEAN its still interesting you made a document in history. your now the craziest celeb. in the world thats awsome in its own little way.

  18. I know nothing on these details. I do believe he is a wonderful actor and is very deserving of good things. He was stressed out and I feel for him. God jesus bless you.