French I’m Still Here interview with Joaquin

16/07/2011 | By

“Looking dirty is signing your own death warrant.”
Joaquin Phoenix explains the origins of “I m still here”, a mythomaniac film on his false retirement and his debut in hip-hop.

Located by Seta and translated by Yas – Thanks forum members!

"Looking dirty is signing your own death warrant."
Joaquin Phoenix explains the origins of "I m still here", a mythomaniac film on his false retirement and his debut in hip-hop.

For the purposes of the film, the beautiful Joaquin got a paunch and grew hair and beard. -DR
Joaquin Phoenix could be proud of the result but there was still a long way to go: during the two years that lasted the filming, I’m Still Here was a very demanding experience.

How and why did you have the idea of this project?
Initially, Casey [Affleck, Director, Editor’s note] and I wanted to do a different, original comedy. Our initial pitch was very poor: I would solemnly declare that I was retiring from acting to do hip-hop and we would see what would be going on from that. We found this starting very absurd and funny. Actors do not retire! We are not basketball players who have to think about doing something else at a relatively young age. We film or we do not film, we can do hip hop or something else if we want but we do not retire. Especially at my age. It is wacky. We were even afraid, at the beginning, that nobody would care. We thought that people would not even notice my statement: a fool withdraws from the light… Bid deal! But it was quite the contrary: the first reaction was tremendous, it exceeded everything.

What were your writing and filming methods?
In fact, a very large part of the film was written. But this writing has evolved over the events. We agreed on the principle of a permanent evolution and unpredictability. For example, we soon realized that the film, which was first aimed to be a comedy, turned into something much more weird and uncertain. We adapted to the reactions provoked in the media and to the turn of events: we had planned a first concert of hip-hop in a club, but without a contract and without knowing which club, for example. But I insist on the fact that the film is very written and very played, even if it is improvisation. This is not a documentary.

To what genre does I’m Still Here belong, according to you?
It doesn’t really belong to a regular genre. For us, this is not a "mockumentary", this is not a "hoax", this is not Brüno. It is a non conventional film, which draws its energy from the set, at the moment when it’s being filmed. I can assure you that the filming did not look like a joke. Casey often changed the members of the team to maintain freshness, risk, danger, and also doubt. But it was a real movie crew, up to 60 members sometimes! Anyway, I think that cinema does not capture reality, but honesty.

However, some scenes look so disturbingly true that we have the feeling that they are real. Like the one when you crack down in Washington: you get off the car, you are outraged by your own film , you vomit and you seem to become depressive…
No, everything is false… Even if it is true that in some ways the film made me change under the eye of the camera. But this is often the case with important films, with roles that count for you and touch your soul. During the long periods of filming breaks, which lasted approximately twenty-four months, Casey wrote most of the scenes and dialogues. This scene was written too.

Was the physical transformation difficult?
Refusing the code of the beautiful people is one of the worst crimes. Looking dirty is signing your own social and media death warrant
At the beginning I did not care about having a paunch and dubious clothes. But at the end I hated my hair. I often had to restrain myself from shaving my head and beard.

The first images of the film show you at the time of your media triumph for "walk the line" and "two lovers". There were real TV archives but they look more fake than the film, don’t you think?
If Casey was here he would thank you for saying that. The prism of media builds things around a name, around an actor, which have nothing to do with you. When Clooney goes to Jay Leno talk show, he plays Clooney, he is not the true guy. But if one day you do not look like that construction anymore, if you tell yourself "this is not me", then the problems begin. Russell Crowe did something wrong publicly? So what, has he an Oscar for best actor or for coolest guy? It is even worse for actresses for whom we praise more their dresses and designers. The most outrageous thing was all those people who told me: "Come on! You have comfort, easy money, you are stupid to turn away from that.” Lawyer mentality! Sometimes the biggest phobia in Hollywood seems to be your hygiene.

LINK: Next Liberation