By the end of 2007 we saw Joaquin teaming up once again with James Gray to film Two Lovers in New York. His co-star’s would be Gwyneth Paltrow, Isabella Rossellini and Vinessa Shaw.
The film premiered at Cannes 2008 to a standing ovation. Joaquin was apparently to attend. All awaited him but at the last minute he did not show. His publicist later confirmed that he had been sick and unable to attend. There followed a long period where Joaquin was not spotted out and about in LA or otherwise. Then on October 27th 2008 Joaquin attended with his brother in law, Casey Affleck, a reading of The World of Nick Adams to honour Paul Newman. He was interviewed that evening by E!News where he made the shock announcement that Two Lovers was his last film and that he was retiring from acting. Casey was asked about this and he said that Joaquin had made an album.
Later that same week on November 1st 2008, Two Lovers was showing at the AFI Film Festival. Joaquin attended for the premiere of ‘Che’ alongside James Gray and Vinessa Shaw. He had Good Bye! written on his fingers in pen. When he held his hands out to the cameras, the words spelt Bye!Good. Maybe a mistake or a genuine statement?!! He had the makings of a full beard and his hair was messily stuck behind his ears. He wore sunglasses and smoked his obligatory cigarettes throughout.
Joaquin spoke that night of pastures new and confirmed he really did mean to leave the acting profession. No mention was made of what sort of musical field he intended on pursuing. Then at the New Year in Miami, Joaquin was seen hanging out with P Diddy amongst others. Again his appearance was a shock, his hair clipped back in a ladies hairclip and the beard quite long. Early in 2009 it was announced that Joaquin would play Lavo in Las Vegas. The music would be hip/hop/rap. Joaquin did indeed attend Lavo and played 3 songs all written by him. He was dressed in ripped cords, ripped hat and slipped off the stage after his final number. He was still sporting a full beard and his hair looked (whilst clean), unkempt. He seemed happy and the crowd appeared to appreciate the short performance. He said after the show that music had been his first love and that he had always been a fan of hip/hop. Joaquin said that a music career was something he wanted. He said his album would come out when he felt it was ready but actually mentioned 14th February.
During this whole period, it was noticeable that Casey Affleck was filming Joaquin and the word was that waivers were being asked to sign wherever he filmed Joaquin. Some ‘insiders’ said that Joaquin was being filmed for a documentary about his transition from actor to rapper. Others said, it was a hoax and the documentary would show this. Joaquin denied that it was a hoax in an Audio interview after the Lavo show. He got quite angry at the suggestion that his new music career was a hoax or a joke. This interview was again filmed by Casey and is yet to be seen.
On the evening of the Two Lovers premiere in New York, Joaquin appeared on the David Letterman show. He had his by now, characteristic dark sunglasses and his beard and hair were again, quite unkempt. The interview was an uncomfortable one and Joaquin appeared uninterested in being there. Letterman attempted to talk about Two Lovers and the other actors in it but again, Joaquin appeared uninterested. The interview since has gained notoriety as a Letterman classic. Joaquin then appeared at The Two Lovers premiere alongside Gwyneth Paltrow, James Gray and Vinessa Shaw. He seemed angry and contrite and of course, did not stay to watch the film!
In March 2009 Joaquin was scheduled to play Liv Fontainebleau Nightclub in Miami, Florida. On the night, Joaquin arrived late and played just one song before arguing with a heckler and jumping off the stage to tackle the man. Both were taken outside the club and not allowed back in. This again, being filmed by Casey Affleck.
Two Lovers opened to critical success although not matched at the box office. James Gray has spoken of his disappointment that Joaquin has chosen to retire from acting and says he hopes to lure him back.
Joaquin’s appearance at Liv in 2009 was his last public one for the year. No word was spoken about the album and/or the documentary since the Audio interview.
Joaquin re-surfaced in early 2010 in a charity video alongside Miley Cyrus and Liv Tyler. He appeared to be his ‘old self’ again as the beard and scruffy hair had gone. Rumours have been heard that Joaquin had gone through some bad times and now was ok again. Of course, that was all speculation as Joaquin himself had not, to that date, spoken publically of any troubles. He has in Feb 2010 been seen out with Aria from an up and coming all girl band, The Paradiso Girls. By February 2010, Joaquin had still not released an album, released the documentary or to his fans dismay announced a return to acting. Various rumours surfaced quoting a return to acting with amongst others, an offer to play The Hulk. None of these panned out however. Then in May 2010, the long awaited documentary was shown to buyers in New York. Magnolia picked up the rights and then to the fans delight, a title and release date were announced! I’m Still Here directed by Casey Affleck was to open at Venice Film Festival on September 6th, quickly followed by Toronto Film Festival and then a worldwide release.
The film opened in Venice to mixed reviews and then on the eve of the world release, Casey Affleck spoke out and admitted the film was not a documentary and a complete hoax. Joaquin then went on to appear on Letterman and The Jimmy Fallon show, confirming that it was indeed a hoax and that he had certainly not retired.
On a personal note, by August 2010 it appeared that any romance with Aria Crescendo was over.
By the end of November 2010, many further film rumours surfaced but again, no firm deals appear to have been made.
Joaquin is an enduring actor of his generation and has walked the fine line between artistry and professional pragmatism. He says he refuses to have an agenda and will do whatever excites him at the time. He says he does not know what people’s expectations of him are and certainly shows no desire to know or indeed care.
Joaquin has come along way since his breakthrough in To Die For and what follows for him now is always open to question. As a keen spokesman for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and having directed various band videos, who knows what is next? What is not at debate is that Joaquin will continue to be brilliant, believable and never predictable in his artistic choices. Something of which his family and friends must be extremely proud of.
Karen Piercey – Updated November 2010 with contributions from the early yrs from:
UNCUT DVD REVIEW magazine
FILM REVIEW magazine