This time of year must bring a shudder of impending stress down Joaquin Phoenix’s spine, as the actor shifts from turning in great performances to being asked about them nonstop for awards consideration. His work in Spike Jonze’s “Her” sadly failed to score an Oscar nomination in a crowded year (the film itself received five nods overall including Best Picture), but that hasn’t stopped Phoenix from giving an rare, but welcome, extended interview covering his last few films, his acting process, and much more.
Talking with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air, Phoenix gradually eases into the 45-minute interview. “This is so fucking stupid. Why am I talking about this?” he says early on when discussing Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master.” The story he was telling is great—for the role of Freddie Quell and his one-sided sneer, he had dentists put wire brackets in his mouth for him to then rubber-band shut—and luckily Gross convinces him of its worth, and Phoenix continues to tell many more.
These include describing his time on “Her” with both Samantha Morton and her later replacement Scarlett Johansson, as the futuristic operating system with whom his character falls in love, and his approach when playing a scene (“I’ve never really considered too much of other people’s processes”). He also recounts life as a child actor: “There’s really nothing like being on a movie or TV set, It’s just an incredible energy, it’s so exciting. So obviously, as a kid, you’re like, ‘I could go to school, or I could be hanging out with these people.’ “
It’s an exciting chance to hear the actor speak rather enthusiastically about the various roles that he’s tackled (no talk of “The Immigrant”, unfortunately), and you can listen to the full interview below.