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Noah Forrest

By Noah Forrest

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

I’m curious to see Casey Affleck’s documentary about Joaquin Phoenix’s “rap” career, I’m Still Here.  It seems more obvious every day that Phoenix’s “retirement” from acting to focus on rapping was a complete put-on.  I think it hit home from me when I saw that Phoenix is listed as a producer on the film.  I find it hard to believe that someone who does the crazy things that purportedly happen in the documentary would allow the film to be released.  More than that, Affleck is Phoenix’s brother-in-law and I’m fairly sure that no family member would exploit someone’s downward spiral unless they were in on some kind of joke.

But the sad part for me is that this seems like such a waste of time for two incredibly talented actors.  Casey Affleck finally acted again after a three year layoff and gave us another masterful performance in The Killer Inside Me; the last performance Phoenix gave was the devastating, heartbreaking, and altogether fantastic portrayal of Leonard in Two Lovers.  I understand that these two buddies wanted to just hang out and make a documentary where Phoenix plays an elaborate prank on unsuspecting audiences.  It seems like a fun idea and all that, but it’s also a waste of talent.  These two guys are two of the finest actors we have and no matter how good I’m Still Here turns out, I can’t imagine I won’t be disappointed that these two didn’t spend that time giving us a few more great performances.

I think the issue is that Phoenix and Affleck are the kind of actors, like Daniel Day-Lewis, who don’t “enjoy” acting.  They see it as a job because they are so committed to what they do, actually believing in the craft of creating a performance.  So, the two of them just didn’t feel like doing all that hard work yet wanted to produce something because they are artists, after all.  And I’m Still Here is the result of that.  I understand where they’re coming from, but I hope and pray that they get back in front of the camera ASAP.

Three amigos

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon