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Reservation Road - Joaquin Phoenix gets blunt (sigh)


Emily: Let me stir up trouble. I hear tell you were a “producer” on the film. But - and here’s the battle words - you really didn’t do much or that’s what Mark Wahlberg said.

Joaquin: My role as producer is really as an actor that didn’t get paid as much as he was supposed to therefore they offered him a production credit. He agreed to it because he’s greedy [laughter] and that’s essentially the story for me to be perfectly honest. It’s not that I wasn’t paid well, it’s just I wasn’t paid the crazy exorbitant amount that I’d been paid before.
EMILY: You and Mark are great in this film. What do you like about working with him?

Joaquin: He’s gorgeous to look at. No, Mark is really hard-working. It means a lot to me. I think it’s something that I value in other people. I think the best thing about Mark is there’s such truth and authenticity in his performances. I’m always surprised. I remember doing this scene with him and James [Gray the director] had just come up with brand new dialogue for him literally, as we’re walking to set. I had some as well so, of course, I’m sweating and panicking and figuring out ‘how am I gonna say this?’ Mark looks really comfortable. Then we go to set and he absolutely, f**kin’ nailed the scene. It was unbelievable to me that somebody could do that because it took me a while to get anywhere. There’s a real truth, something totally unpretentious about him. It just feels like he’s there.

EMILY: Your character in this is really torn apart inside, trying to choose between two worlds. Do you just love playing that kind of conflicted guy?

Joaquin: Yeah. First of all drama is conflict. It’s just that simple. You want conflict in the character. If not, I’m bored to death. I don’t know a single person in life that doesn’t have conflict. It’s a movie so they’re like extreme versions of these things, these things that we don’t necessarily experience in life and it’s a way to experience and study it. I think, honestly, it probably just comes down to being bored or not. Because I’ve been on films [playing] ‘regular guys’ and it was really f**kin’ tedious and boring to me. I don’t enjoy acting enough to not want to experience something that really affects things. Like if you were a surfer, would you want to surf where there were like two foot waves or ten foot waves? To me, the more dramatic stories are more exciting for me to play or else I’d just [not do it]. There’s too much other stuff that goes into it; the make-up, the hair and the wardrobe and taking pictures and doing press and all this s**t that I don’t really enjoy. It’s not worth it to me without having an experience that would be intense.

EMILY: You do seem to go to some very dark places in films. Are you that tortured while making a film?

Joaquin: It’s like I’ve read some stuff about bands and songs on a particular album and you find out that song is written about his aunt or something and you’re like ‘hell, I’ve been loving this girl because of this song. What are you doing to me? It’s about your f**kin’ aunt?’ [we laugh].

EMILY: Knowing kinda ruins the song, huh?

Joaquin: I think [knowing that] can potentially ruin the experience. I wouldn’t really want to listen to that [knowing] that the guy was thinking about what was for lunch. But, to be honest, I’ve done a lot of scenes where I’m thinkin’ like ‘what the f**k is for lunch? I can’t wait to get out of here’. Actors talk about being effected by stuff and having dreams. If you go home and I happen to be in one of your dreams tonight, I don’t think it’s because you were like sooo affected by this, putting your heart and soul into this interview. I think it’s just we were around each other so I popped into your dreams.

EMILY: Good point. You and Eva Mendes have a love scene in this. Were there a whole lot of takes on that?

Joaquin: [grins]. I asked for seventy! But we did only got one take. She said ‘we’re done. That’s it’. Halfway through the take, she was like, ‘God we’re done. I think you got it’.

EMILY: How was working with Eva?

Joaquin: It was great working with Eva. They were like ‘we cast Eva Mendes’. I was like ‘great’. Then I met her and we were walking to the hotel and there were all these cameras and I was like ‘oh, sorry. I know, it drives me crazy’. So, she walked one way and I went the other way and they followed her! ‘Who is this woman?’ [we laugh]. But with Eva I was surprised. James and I would get together every weekend throughout filming and go over the following week’s work and figure it out and Eva was there every, single day. We had to tell her ‘actually, we’re not talking about anything you should know about. It’s just about Bobby [Joaquin’s character]. You don’t need to know’ and she’d be like ‘oh, okay’. You don’t really have to come in on weekends. The fact that she wanted to and was willing to do that, I thought was really good. I thought she was really amazing.

EMILY: Your character in this film runs a club and is comfortable in the club scene but are you comfortable in that world? [note: Joaquin’s brother, actor River Phoenix died of a drug overdose outside The Viper Room club in L.A. in 1993. Joaquin made the 911 call]. Is that your scene, personally?

Joaquin: Do I feel comfortable? No, it’s not my scene but I don’t think I have a scene is the trouble. I’ve been to clubs. I went to these clubs in New York. I’ve been to places like when I was in my 20’s in New York although it’s changed quite a lot. I just think they’re awful. It’s unbearable to me. I don’t like being in an enclosed place with really loud music and a lot of drunk people. It’s not my idea of a good time. So, [for this movie] I went and I was talking to a lot of these people that ran clubs, going around, looking in the back room and the offices, how they did it. It’s just such a miserable life. Honestly, they’re there to like five in the morning and then back at like three in the afternoon. It just seems like a miserable life.

EMILY: Okay, so no clubbing. What do you like doing when you have time off?

Joaquin: It’s terrible. No one ever believes me. I do nothing. TV? I will say that I do very much like Discovery Channel which I just watch a lot. There’s like four channels that are like History, Discovery and National Geographic and I basically just flip through those.

EMILY: You were Oscar-nominated for both Gladiator and Walk the Line. How did the second nomination compare to the first one?

Joaquin: I don’t think it was much different. I still have to go around, do a lot of things, wear the suit, say ‘hi’. I really haven’t thought that way. I think I got out of a lot of stuff the first time because Russell [Crowe] did everything. I just really didn’t have to do it. And, I was working as well. I was out of the country when Gladiator came up until the Oscars but for Walk the Line I was here so they had me. I had a few more things to do.

EMILY: You had a bad car accident in the Hollywood hills last year but you walked away. It must have been scary. What do you remember about that?

Joaquin: It was day. I remember that. So that’s a good start. It was funny, I don’t remember being frightened at all, just more like fascinated that I was turned sideways. I just heard this German voice [director Werner Herzog was passing by and stopped] saying ‘please relax’. I was like ‘I know that voice. Is it God’? [laughter]. I was like ‘I am relaxed’ and he’s like ‘no. You must relax’

The car was tilted in such a way that, if I climbed out the passenger side I thought that the weight would then roll it over [a cliff] so I can’t go out that way. And then this guy opened the very back door and it wasn’t Werner. I crawled through and said ‘thanks very much’ and I turned around and Werner was long gone. Then I smoked [standing] next to the firemen.
EMILY: Okay Casey is your brother-in-law [married to Joaquin’s sister Summer]. Do you get together with Ben and Jen and go to family parties?

Joaquin: [Waves his arms in the air] The Phoenix/Affleck party! Wooo
I gave myself first billing. No, we don’t get together for parties but I go over and visit my sister and my nephew and my brother-in-law. We were spending Christmas together.


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