When Joaquin Phoenix did the rounds of TV chat shows to promote new film Joker in 2019, he probably didn’t expect embarrassment. After all, Phoenix’s act as the Joker has been hailed as a highlight of the hugely successful film. But when Phoenix appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the host had a surprise for him when he played an outtake he’d found.
Method actor Phoenix is renowned for his commitment to his roles. To get into the part of Joker in the hit film released in 2019, he had to shed lots of weight. But that had its downsides; as he told the Daily Beast website, “You start to go mad when you lose that amount of weight in that amount of time.”
A little of that madness was on view when Phoenix appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in October 2019. At first, Phoenix chatted amicably with host Jimmy Kimmel about his starvation diet and about avoiding spoiling the film, before discussing his ability as a dancer and how tough the film was to make. Then Kimmel sprang an outtake from the movie on the actor.
In the short clip, Phoenix can be seen in his Joker makeup, muttering to himself. He’s writing some notes while he does so, but something is clearly bothering him. Mysteriously, he says, “You started the Cher thing, Larry.” Then he adds, “It’s not even an insult. Cher really? She’s a singer, actor, dancer, fashion icon, how’s that a [beep] insult?”
Phoenix looked mortified at the clip, shuddering with embarrassment. He shared with Kimmel that “Larry” is the film’s cinematographer, who had indeed been calling Cher. The actor told Kimmel that sometimes movies got intense with so many people in such a small space. But he said, “That was supposed to have been private,” adding awkwardly, “I’m a little embarrassed. I’m sorry about that.”