Confirming the suspicions of many, Casey Affleck confirmed to The New York Times that his Joaquin Phoenix documentary I’m Still Here is fake.
“It’s a terrific performance, it’s the performance of his career,” Affleck said of Phoenix’s two-year portrayal of himself on screen and off.
Magnolia Pictures released the film last Friday. “The reviews were so angry,” added Affleck. But then again, nothing was real, not even the opening shots in which Phoenix and his siblings swim in a water hole in Panama. Affleck said that was actually shot in Hawaii with actors, then “run back and forth on top of an old videocassette recording of ‘Paris, Texas’ to degrade the images.”
“I never intended to trick anybody,” Affleck explained. “The idea of a quote, hoax, unquote, never entered my mind.”
David Letterman was not in on the joke when Phoenix, on Feb. 11, 2009, showed up in character as a mumbling, aimless star gone wrong. Letterman summed up the interview: “Joaquin, I’m sorry you couldn’t be here tonight.”
Phoenix will return to “Late Show with David Letterman” on September 22, but this time he’ll be appearing as himself.
Explaining why they made the film without many hints of it being fiction, Affleck said they “wanted to create a space. You believe what’s happening is real.”
He said that one part of the film was real – “a snippet of a home movie that showed Phoenix and his very young siblings performing, Jackson Five style, on the streets of Los Angeles.”