Joaquin Phoenix’s awkward Kimmel interview and Joker outtake

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 28: Joaquin Phoenix attends the premiere of Warner Bros Pictures "Joker" on September 28, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 28: Joaquin Phoenix attends the premiere of Warner Bros Pictures "Joker" on September 28, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images) /

Things got a little uncomfortable during Joker star Joaquin Phoenix’s interview with Jimmy Kimmel.

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before but actor Joaquin Phoenix had a bit of an odd appearance on a late night show last night. Things between Phoenix and host Jimmy Kimmel went a little sideways after an outtake from Joker was shown on air.

Phoenix has already had a unique experience promoting his latest film Joker. He (justifiably) walked out of an interview that suggested the movie could inspire a massacre. Then the press was dis-invited from the film’s Los Angeles premiere after director Todd Phillips again had to defend the movie.

Still, Phoenix is making the late night rounds this week ahead of Joker‘s release on Oct. 4. He will be on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on that date but first stopped by Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Tuesday night.

Things didn’t exactly reach Letterman levels of discomfort for Phoenix and Kimmel. But things certainly seemed off from the start and only got worse when a Joker outtake was show to Phoenix and Kimmel’s audience.

Joaquin Phoenix already isn’t a huge fan of late night interviews. Rarely do you seem out doing these types of appearances to promote his movies. That could just because a Joaquin Phoenix movie doesn’t need any extra hype around it. He’s already one of the most talented and captivating actors in the world.

With that in mind, you can tell Phoenix must be exhausted by the weight question. It has become commonplace for actors and actresses to transform their bodies for specific roles, so Kimmel’s cliche questions don’t seem to engage Phoenix too much.

Following that, Kimmel teasing the actor about his break dancing past also adds to the awkwardness. Phoenix slips in a subtle line of “you’re making fun of it, but it was serious for me.”

Things reach a tipping point when Kimmel shows an outtake from Joker sent in by director Todd Phillips. The clip shows Phoenix admonishing a crew member for interrupting his performance process. Cutting back to Kimmel and Phoenix, the actor appears visibly upset at his behavior.

Phoenix stumbles through an explanation and then an apology before asking to change the subject. It’s uncomfortable, it’s cringey but was it all an act?

As Kimmel noted, Phoenix is a mysterious guy and that is likely by design. His reaction to the outtake could have been part of keeping up that reputation. Chances are slim that Jimmy Kimmel Live! sprung that clip on Phoenix without warning, given how it could harm how the actor is perceived by the public and those in his industry.

Phoenix’s late night appearances are limited. But he has been on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in the past. Not too long ago, the two joked around and showed some chemistry. Phoenix’s familiarity with Kimmel’s show suggests he wouldn’t be taken off guard by a clip like the Joker outtake.

It’s also unlikely that Todd Phillips would send in the outtake with the goal being to embarrass his star. Instead, it feels more like an inside joke or gag that Phoenix sells extremely well because of his acting and because of what the audience knows about him and interviews. The director and actor may well have been playing prank on Kimmel, too.

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Of course, it is possible that Joaquin Phoenix’s reaction was genuine. Jimmy Kimmel certainly seemed a little more flustered than usual when pulling off a bit. In the end, there will be a lot of people trying to guess Phoenix’s thoughts and question what is real and what’s not. Sounds like they got the right man to play the Joker.