Joaquin Phoenix’s Awkward-a-Licious Interview on The Late Show with David Letterman

by Joey deVilla on February 13, 2009

I’ve always admired people who can walk into an awkward situation and handle it with a quick wit, improvisation and aplomb. It’s a quality that I constantly strive to cultivate in myself. It’s also a quality that David Letterman has often been able to tap while interviewing some of his more difficult guests, most recently with a heavily bearded (and heavy sedated) Joaquin Phoenix on Wednesday’s Late Night show:

Letterman took would’ve been a ten-minute disaster for many other hosts and with a combination of “steering”, harnessing the audience’s goodwill toward Phoenix and gentle ribbing (“Can you tell us about your days with the Unabomber?”) turned it into one of his more memorable interviews. He even managed to evoke a smile and compliment from his spaced-out guest: “You’re a funny dude.”

Kudos to Dave for pulling it off!

Bonus reading material: Time has compiled Letterman’s top ten disastrous interviews.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Maria February 13, 2009 at 3:05 pm

OMG, this is awesome. But now I’m also beginning to suspect it could be a Kaufman-esque thing pulled by Joaquin. It is THAT weird.

chukmaty February 13, 2009 at 4:10 pm

I have to believe this is an act by Joaquin, Letterman was fantastic.

Jason Clarke February 13, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Joaquin is too talented and too strong of an actor for this not to be a huge put-on. If it’s not a put-on, it’s tragic, but I would bet money that it is.

Logan February 13, 2009 at 6:10 pm

I’m not convinced that wasn’t Zach Galafinakis.

Tim A February 14, 2009 at 4:47 pm

About 1-2 mins in I immediately thought this was a hoax or character that Phoenix is playing. As good as Dave is at interviewing you can easily see the setup questions and prepared jokes. Phoenix responses are not that of someone that is out of it. You can see that later on when he does respond.

It is almost impossible for me to watch any of the late night talk shows. Never any real substance comes out of them. Of course I am spoiled and biased since I listen to Howard Stern do real interviews and not these glossy Hollywood interviews.

Joe February 15, 2009 at 4:51 am

Joaquin likes to take roles as the odd one out, but that works for him as an actor so this interview with Letterman might complement his career

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