How a Really Dumbass Publicity Stunt Broke Casey Afleck and May Still Destroy Joaquin Phoenix’s Career
“If this film turns out tostill be part of an elaborate hoax, I’m going to be seriously pissed.” Roger Ebert
Rewind to 19 months ago: An apparently formerly great actor (Joaquin Phoenix) slowly goes crazy right before your eyes on Late Night with David Letterman. Now everyone still thinks he’s gone crazy, and insanely desperate actor/moviemaker’s (Casey Affleck) career and bank account are now in ruins due to a hoax so dumb the only one laughing now is David Letterman, who cashed in on the ratings.
There was Joaquin, looking like a lost mumbling ZZ Top guitarist who had wandered onto the set with Lettermen, and telling the world in a hostile manner that he was leaving his successful acting career to focus on his music. It was very performance-artsy and very Andy Kauffman, only Andy Kauffman was really funny, and Joaquin was stuck somewhere between really scary and very sad.
Fast Forward 19 months: Casey Affleck has finally admitted that I’m Still Here, his new mockumentary that chronicles Joaquin Phoenix’s two-year descent into madness as an aspiring rapper, was a hoax, a publicity stunt for a movie that now almost nobody wants to see.
“It’s a terrific performance, it’s the performance of his career,” he told the New York Times. It might be the last performance of his life
Except for a few giggles that seemed to indicate it was all just an act, Joaquin Phoenix’s appearance on Letterman was one of the strangest things on TV since George W. Bush danced and played bongos with an African band on the White House lawn.
Despite massive promotion, most of it free, thanks to the Letterman Show, Casey Affleck’s I’m Still Here about Joaquin Phoenix’s supposed transition from movie star to rap wannabe, has turned out to be a massive flop.
In its second week, the film, released by Magnolia films as a documentary, earned $113,333 in 120 theaters, or just $944 per theater. Its two-week total stands at $259,290. Maybe they should have released it a tragic-comedy, especially now that the movie has almost bankrupted Casey Affleck.
The reviews were so bad that Roger Ebert wrote that the film was “a sad and painful documentary that serves little useful purpose other than to pound another nail into the coffin. Here is a gifted actor who apparently by his own decision has brought desolation upon his head. He was serious when he said he would never act again. He was serious when he announced a career as a hip hop artist. He wasn’t goofing when he was on the Letterman show. He was flying into pieces. If this film turns out tostill be part of an elaborate hoax, I’m going to be seriously pissed.“
Thanks a lot Casey and Joaquin for punking Roger Ebert. The last thing Roger Ebert needs at this point is any more pain.
To see how out of touch Casey and Joaquin are about the dire consequences of acting crazy on TV (Just ask Sarah Palin and her new political clone Christine O’Donnell) just read this quote from the NY Times:
“I never intended to trick anybody,” said Mr. Affleck, an intense 35-year-old who spoke over a meat-free, cheese-free vegetable sandwich on Thursday. “The idea of a quote, hoax, unquote, never entered my mind.”
Still, he acknowledged that Mr. Letterman was not in on the joke when Mr. Phoenix, on Feb. 11, 2009, seemed to implode his own career by showing up in character as a mumbling, aimless star gone wrong.
So Casey never intended to trick anybody, but forgot to tell Letterman and everyone else is was a stunt for a whole 19 months?
Now Joaquin is slated to appear on The TonightShow with Jay Leno tonight and Late Show with David Letterman on Thursday, hopefully to try to repair the damage, and to get back to making real movies.