The Winners & Losers from David Letterman's Latest Interview with Joaquin Phoenix
For those of you hoping to see another Joaquin Phoenix meltdown on The Late Show with David Letterman, last night was probably very disappointing. There was no beard, no mumbling -- well, some mumbling; he's still Joaquin Phoenix -- and very little controversy. But just who came out on top when the interview was all over? Click ahead for the night's winners and losers.
· David Letterman
The definition of professional. Letterman wasn't cruel to Phoenix -- something that would have been all too easy for him to do -- but he wasn't especially nice either. In typical Letterman fashion, he started the interview with praise ("I've always liked you"), before letting the uncomfortable star twist in the wind by seeming utterly disinterested with what Phoenix had to say ("All I care about is me in this"). Whether or not Letterman was involved with the hoax has been fodder for discussion of late, but it should be noted that he got Phoenix to admit nothing was planned prior to the interview. If Letterman did know anything, that's probably because he's not an idiot.
· Joaquin Phoenix
If the goal of Phoenix's Late Show appearance was to prove to Hollywood that the star is back to being an employable actor, mission accomplished. Phoenix was charming, contrite, self-deprecating and humble, laughing along with the audience while Letterman got a good amount of body blows. He also looked good; gone was the hobo beard and beer gut. The Joaquin Phoenix who was seated on The Late Show couch last night looked like a leading man, so expect casting announcements to follow. Clint Eastwood, you're on the clock.
· Jay Leno
Not just a cheap shot. Well, sorta, but still: The way Letterman handled Phoenix and this entire situation just proved, once again, which of these two men is the king of late night television. Ratings, schmatings. I'd like to see Leno -- or Conan for that matter -- handle themselves as well as Dave did last night.
· I'm Still Here
Talk about kicking while your down. It wasn't surprising to hear Letterman mock the colossal box office failure of I'm Still Here -- after threatening to sue Phoenix for using clips of the original Late Show appearance in the film, the star asked if they could speak in private; Letterman's response: "We'll go to one of your screenings." It was surprising, however, to hear Phoenix take a few shot at his film, too. When Letterman admitted that he hadn't seen I'm Still Here yet, Phoenix quipped sarcastically, "Everyone else has. You're the only one in America who hasn't." He later said that I'm Still Here "feels like seven hours." Burn?