The truth about I'm Still Here, Casey Affleck's documentary of Joaquin Phoenix's "public meltdown" last year, is out: It was a hoax, says Ty Burr at The Boston Globe. The Gladiator star's "Unabomber beard, the shades, the incoherent mumbling" was all an act, calculated to poke fun at "stars who misbehave and the public media space that responds to them." The only problem, says Burr, is that Phoenix wasn't a big enough star to have a well-known off-screen persona before his faked meltdown. "Because we were never sure who Joaquin Phoenix was before, it's very doubtful we'll be interested in who he wants to be next." Here's an excerpt:
Phoenix has had a solidly successful Hollywood career — two Oscar nominations, four films that have grossed over $100 million — without ever truly coming into focus as a personality. He’s a good actor but is he a star? Are we particularly interested in him off the screen the way we are Julia Roberts, Johnny Depp, [Mel] Gibson even before he went off the reservation?
Reactions to Phoenix’s persona performance piece — for that is what it is — have ranged from anger to indifference, with angry indifference seeming to be the keynote. "I'm Still Here"? We Don't Care. If he had been a different sort of performer, those reactions might have been different, as well.