LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Director Casey Affleck told the New York Times Thursday that the strange behavior of Joaquin Phoenix is a put-on, staged for the documentary on which they collaborated, "I'm Still Here," and for the actor's infamous 2009 appearance on "Late Show with David Letterman."
"It's a terrific performance, the performance of his career," Affleck told The Times. Letterman, Affleck said, was not aware that Phoenix was faking instability while on the air for an uncomfortable interview segment.
The actor is scheduled to return to Letterman next week. Earlier this month, Affleck was singing a different tune, telling reporters at the Venice International Film Festival, "I can tell you that there is no hoax."
Affleck also says that Phoenix's agent, Patrick Whitesell at William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, was in on the joke. But as The Hollywood Reporter has reported, the aberrant behavior hasn't hurt Phoenix's career; he's weighing his next film roles. There had been rumblings for quite some time that Phoenix was faking his sudden career detour from respected actor to unstable, aspiring hip-hop artist.
Affleck explained that the ruse was necessary to frame the documentary's focus, "the disintegration of celebrity, without the clutter of preconceived notions."