Now that the ruse is up and the truth has been set free that Joaquin Phoenix was simply acting crazily for the not-actually-a-documentary, “I’m Still Here,” the 35-year-old star sat down with David Letterman on “Late Show” Wednesday night to apologize for any ill will he may have caused.
Except it looks like Letterman didn’t really have any – although the late-night host did say he wasn’t in on Phoenix’s act when he sat down for an interview that’s now in the annals of pop culture history.
“You know, I’ve always liked you,” Letterman told a clean-shaven Phoenix. “I recognized you as a powerful talent…And then a year and a half ago you come out, and honestly it was like you slipped and hit your head in the tub.”
Letterman told Phoenix he could tell from the moment the actor took a seat that something was amiss, because “if you were really the way you appeared to be, you don’t go out. People don’t let guys like you out if you’re really like that.”
Phoenix replied with an explanation that his brother-in-law and director of the film, Casey Affleck, has offered as well: They just figured people would get it.
“Like you said, you’ve interviewed many, many people, and I assumed you would know the difference between a character and a real person,” Phoenix said. “But I apologize, I hope I didn’t offend you in anyway.”
Letterman responded with a hearty “No, not at all,” and said he considered the act to be fun, like “batting practice.”
All seemed to be well and good between the two men, until Letterman pointed out that they’d used almost five minutes of that infamous interview in “I’m Still Here,” which Letterman said he didn't receive a licensing fee for. If it was an actual documentary, it could qualify under fair use, Letterman explained, but since we all now know that it’s not….Letterman wants a piece of the cut. "$1 million bucks," to be exact.
"All of that promotion you got from being on here that night...all of that's worth something, that's free publicity," Letterman told Phoenix. "So we want a little something for that. And my talent fee, you know, it's not my first rodeo. I want a little taste of this as well."
Phoenix eventually responded, "We'll work it out," but requested, “Can we talk about it privately, please?”
Letterman, ever agreeable, told him, “Yeah. We’ll go to one of your screenings.”