Rumors have swirled for weeks around the much anticipated Sundance Film Festival “documentary” by Casey Affleck. The movie, “I’m Still Here,” focuses on one year in the life of actor Joaquin Phoenix while he tries to make a name for himself in the rap world, amidst drugs, mental illness, and a downward spiral of debauchery. Critics have been concerned, upon watching the film, that what Phoenix was truly in need of was mental and emotional help, not a documentary. On the other hand, rumors began that the “documentary” was a fake, and that Phoenix was merely playing a character. This created exactly the kind of press buzz that I’m sure Casey Affleck was looking for. However, all rumors were put to rest last night as Phoenix appeared on the David Letterman Show to discuss the film. While during the past year Phoenix has been seen looking un-bathed, unkempt, and completely crazed, last night he appeared clean-cut, well dressed, and collected. What really set tongues wagging was his admission that the past year he has been playing a “character,” and that the documentary is merely a fake.
The entire charade started a year and a half ago, when Phoenix first appeared on the David Letterman Show as a complete hot mess, crazy-man beard and all, seeming completely stoned and out of it. The interview was an utter disaster, and became a YouTube sensation overnight. It only seemed appropriate that Phoenix bookend his character’s journey by appearing on the Letterman show again. As the actor said, the film is meant to “explore celebrity,” and the affect that the media and life has upon an actor.
The film opened to a limited release on September 16th.