What happens when Will Ferrell is assigned to interview the notoriously press shy Joaquin Phoenix? The amazing answer can be found in the April 2018 edition of Interview Magazine. The publication facilitated a phone interview between the two actors, who traded extremely priceless one-liners with each other while they avoided talking about anything too serious.
The interview begins with a gem: Ferrell explaining to Phoenix what Valentine’s Day is about. The phone conversation between the two just so happened to take place on February 14. Farrell revealed he was heading out for dinner that evening with his wife and two other couples, which Phoenix said sounded awful. Phoenix snapped back with his own question: “What is Valentine’s Day?”
The exchange between the two reads:
JOAQUIN PHOENIX: Did you know that it’s Valentine’s Day?
WILL FERRELL: I did. I’m going to a group Valentine’s Day dinner with my wife and four other friends.
PHOENIX: That sounds awful. Can I ask you a question? What is Valentine’s Day?
FERRELL: It’s a holiday, where if you have a loved one, you express love and affection in some way. For kids, they make little cards and they give them to their friends, and then some people just ignore it altogether.
PHOENIX: Did you do any kind of preparation for today?
FERRELL: The dinner tonight’s the thing, but we’re going to give everyone black roses as a little present. We thought that would be very romantic.
PHOENIX: Are they naturally black or are they dyed?
FERRELL: They’re made in China. They’re fake silk roses.
Fortunately, the Valentine’s Day question is one of numerous gems in the interview. Ferrell zips through a ton of talking points with Phoenix, with the latter confirming he has no interest in football or the Super Bowl and that he never once referred to M. Night Shyamalan as “M. Night Shyamalamadingdong” while making “Signs.” It’s a question only Ferrell would probably ask one of the world’s greatest living actors.
One question that prompted a more emotional response from Phoenix was when Ferrell mentioned how eclectic his roles have been over the years. Phoenix explained the reason: “I usually have a very strong desire to participate in an experience, and then shortly thereafter, I have an overwhelming desire to move as far away from it as possible. And then I try to get out of doing it.”
Phoenix also shed light on why he hates doing press conferences and interview junkets: “One person is always mad at me for being too serious, and then the next person is mad at me for not answering the question with a real answer. I’m probably so self-consumed any time I do a press conference, overwhelmed by my own feelings and thoughts in the situation.”
The interview’s most hilarious moment occured when Ferrell directly asked Phoenix: “In your personal life, are you sometimes a little bitch?” The comedian told Phoenix that he believed his role in “Gladiator” was so effective because Phoenix acted like “such a little bitch.” As to whether or not Phoenix acts like that in real life sometimes, the actor answered in one word: “Definitely.”
Phoenix will be on the big screen with new projects this spring and summer. His Cannes-winning performance in Lynne Ramsay’s “You Were Never Really Here” opens in select theaters Friday, April 6, while his acclaimed work in Gus Van Sant’s “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot” debuts July 13 via Amazon Studios.
Head over to Interview Magazine to read Ferrell and Phoenix’s lengthy discussion in full.