What should I be doing instead of this?
October 30th, 2008 By Jason Gargano | Movies |

Joaquin Phoenix Calls It Quits

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Sure, he’s always been uncomfortable in the spotlight — but retirement?

Joaquin Phoenix told an E! reporter at a recent red-carpet Hollywood event, “This will be my last performance as an actor. I’m not doing films anymore … I’m going to play music.

“Are you serious? the E! dude asked. "Why?"

“Yeah, I’ve been through that,” Phoenix mumbled. “I’ve done it … I’m dead serious.”

When the flabbergasted E! dude again asked Phoenix if he was kidding, the 34-year-old actor walked away as if he was offended that his statement wasn’t taken seriously the first time.

Phoenix's so-called “last performance” is in Two Lovers, writer/director James Gray’s latest drama, which co-stars Gwyneth Paltrow and Vinessa Shaw. The film debuted at Cannes in May to a mixed reception — as is often the case with Gray’s self-consciously arty, 1970s-cinema-inspired material. French critics loved it … and Americans critics loathed it. Two Lovers is set to open in the U.S. early next year.

Phoenix was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar in 2006 for his role as Johnny Cash in James Mangold's otherwise mediocre Walk the Line. He’s also the younger brother of River Phoenix, an equally gifted actor who in 1993 died of a drug overdose at the age of 23.

Like his brother, Joaquin has always had a keen interest in music, an inclination that no doubt aided his uncanny portrayal of Cash (Phoenix reportedly did all of his own singing and playing) and confirmed by the announcement in March that he’d be cutting an album with the help of Tim Burgess, frontman for British Psych Pop unit The Charlatans.

Joaquin’s breakout acting role was as a jittery, dimwitted, slow-eyed high school student obsessed with Nicole Kidman’s manipulative MILF in Gus Van Sant’s 1995 satire To Die For. It’s a distinctive, deeply empathetic performance that sticks with me even today. I remember thinking at the time that guy was either one of the best actors alive or that he was a creepy head case cast for his acute uneasiness. Thirteen years later, I think was a little of both.

Good luck with the music, Joaquin.

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