Phoenix, looking every bit the pre-gonzo-act suave thesp, apologized to Letterman Wednesday for the weird 2009 visit, saying that he hoped no offence was taken. Letterman said it seemed the hirsute, dazed Phoenix was acting as if he'd slipped and hit his head in the tub but was the opposite of offended: "It was so much fun," beamed Letterman. "It was batting practice, you know what I mean? Every one of them was a dinger."During his previous bizarre appearance, Phoenix wore dark sunglasses and a beard to rival super-producer Rick Rubin's and seemed downright disinterested and mostly non-responsive to Letterman's questions and taunting, the best of which may have been, "Sorry you couldn't be here tonight, Joaquin." Zing!
Announcing his plans to retire from acting and start a career in, what else, hip-hop, set off a media frenzy, which seemed to be precisely what Phoenix and Affleck intended with their avant-garde film.
"We wanted to do a film that explored celebrity and explored the relationship between the media and the consumers and the celebrities themselves," he said to Letterman, who for his part, put Phoenix through the ringer, demanding compensation for the inadvertent free advertising his head-scratching "Late Show" appearance yielded.
Letterman also took the opportunity to clarify that he had no previous knowledge of Phoenix's play-acting and wasn't working with a script when he was teasing his seemingly out-of-it guest.
"We'd hope to come on a talk show and I was looking for a beat-down and I got one," said Phoenix. "So thank you for that."
I'm Still Here premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and opens in select Cineplex theatres September 24.