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Joaquin Phoenix on Two Lovers

Published February 11, 2009 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Magnolia Pictures
Two Lovers is Joaquin Phoenix's last film. The actor retired from movies, but will continue to perform as a hip hop artist. The last time you'll see him on screen is as Leonard, a New York man torn between a woman his family set him up with and a wild, adventurous neighbor.

Joaquin Phoenix One of Two Lovers


"It certainly wasn't like, oh, well, let's go out on this one," Phoenix said. "Although when I was doing the play in San Francisco, I was talking to Danny DeVito's stand-in, and I told the dude, I told him I was retiring. And he was like, 'This is really the last thing?' I said yeah. He said, 'Don't go out on this.' It was the first time I thought about that."

Leonard actually does a little freestyling in the movie, so you get a preview of what's to come. "We were talking, we're sitting in the car, prepping for that scene, rehearsing saying we need to, something has to happen here, right? We can't just cut to the car and everyone's hanging out, whatever, what is it. We talked about things. We're saying, 'Well, what do these dudes do? What do the dudes that grew up in Brooklyn, this age, they all loved hip hop.' And [writer/director] James [Gray] told me that he had a hip hop group and I was like that's just too genius. I couldn't f*cking imagine. So I said, 'Okay, okay, let me try to do something.' So I just had like a few different ideas I jotted down. Then I said, 'So should I do this one or this one?' And then we just ended up doing all of them and I don't know which one he used for the movie."


Two Lovers Poster Two Lovers


The relationships with each actress, Vinessa Shaw and Gwyneth Paltrow, are quite different, but Phoenix is not the type of actor to rehearse with each one and work on their craft.

"I don't like to know what other actors are thinking and I don't want them to know what I'm thinking necessarily unless it's important for a scene. I think there are certain scenes and moments where it's important that you understand what the other person's doing and in those moments you might talk about it, but typically for me, the director is the only person that I talk to about choices and my intention for the scene, and I don't really want to know."

It may take Phoenix a few takes to figure out the rhythm, but that won't matter anymore anyway because he's never acting again. "I'm the kind of person that has no idea. I mean, like, I think for me, if I'm aware of something I'm doing then it's usually I'm certain that it's bad. I think the only times that anything's ever good is when I'm not aware of it. So I don't know. I don't know how many takes I do and no, there's not a conscious effort to try and give somebody more options. I think you're trying to just still find out what the truth is and just get to that, whatever it is. Sometimes that takes 40 takes, or it happens in a few. I don't know."

Two Lovers opens to theaters Friday.

For the trailers and more movie info, go to the Two Lovers Movie Page.
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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Magnolia Pictures
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