Just days ahead of the Joker premiere, Joaquin Phoenix visited Jimmy Kimmel Live to promote the new film, and the 11-minute interview took a few awkward turns. As Kimmel pointed out, Phoenix has always been a rather “mysterious” figure who fans don’t know much about, but while the talk show host tried to learn more details about the actor, Phoenix looked noticeably uncomfortable.
Kimmel started the interview by asking Phoenix if he was proud of his performance in Joker, and if he was aware of how good it is. But, the 44-year-old didn’t want to answer the question because – as Kimmel explained – if he answered “yes” then he looks like a jerk, but if he says “no” everyone will know he is lying.
The conversation then turned to Phoenix’s drastic weight loss for the role, and the actor explained that even though it was difficult at times, there was “something empowering about it” because you have a “level of control over yourself.” Phoenix said that while he was in the middle of his weight loss he was exhausted, and even climbing a flight of stairs was a struggle. But, when you reach your target weight it’s incredible because you suddenly feel energized and excited.
Things started to get uncomfortable in the interview when Kimmel brought up Phoenix’s dancing in Joker, and he revealed that he is a “really good” dancer. Kimmel asked which kind of dancing that Phoenix is good at, and he said that his forte was breakdancing, but it was something that he didn’t do in public because it was personal form of expression and he doesn’t need people to validate him.
Kimmel laughed at the idea of Phoenix break dancing on a piece of cardboard at home, but the actor wasn’t laughing.
“You’re making fun of it, but it was serious for me,” said Phoenix.
When Kimmel asked what it was like on the Joker set, Phoenix said it was actually very light and he almost feels guilty about having such a good time. He then asked Kimmel to move on, but this is when things turned uncomfortable for everyone.
Kimmel had director Todd Phillips send over outtakes from set, and he played a clip of Phoenix in full Joker makeup getting upset with cinematographer Lawrence Sher. Phoenix was unhappy with Sher because he kept whispering, and it was breaking Phoenix’s concentration.
But, Sher kept poking at Phoenix, and called him “Cher” for being an on-set diva.
“It’s not even an insult,” Phoenix responded in the clip. “Cher, really? She’s a singer, actor, dancer, fashion icon. How is that a f*!king insult?”
Phoenix then got up and walked off the set.
When the clip ended, Phoenix was visibly surprised that Kimmel had shared it. He said, “This is so embarrassing,” and then explained that sometimes movies get intense because you are in a small space with a lot of people and you’re trying to find something.
Phoenix said that was supposed to be a private moment, and he was sorry that the audience had to see it. Then, when the actor admitted he owed Sher a public apology, he said he was sorry, but then added that Sher was at fault.
Joker hits theaters nationwide on October 4th.