The Director That Said He’d Ruined Joaquin Phoenix After Seeing His David Letterman Interview

Actor Joaquin Phoenix made headlines everywhere after his now famous and unforgettable interview with David Letterman. After seeing Phoenix’s behavior on the talk show, one director close to Phoenix wondered if he was partially responsible for Phoenix’s antics.

Joaquin Phoenix had a close relationship with director James Gray

Joaquin Phoenix | Toni Anne Barson/WireImage

Filmmaker James Gray has had a professional relationship with Phoenix that dates all the way back to the late 90s. According to IMDb, the two have collaborated on a couple of films together. Their shared filmographies include stories such as The Yards and Phoenix’s We Own the Night.

At one point, Gray belonged in a class of directors that the movie star was willing to work with multiple times. Phoenix believed he enjoyed teaming up with Gray as much as he did because of how he explored the human mind.

“It’s difficult for me to be able to pinpoint exactly what it is. But, I think it’s that he loves human psychology. He loves actors. He loves talking about acting. We just exchange texts, e-mails and phone conversations,” Phoenix once said in an interview with Collider.

Likewise, Gray had similar compliments regarding Phoenix. So much so he compared the actor to iconic stars of the past.

“Joaquin to me is the closest thing we have today to the actors of the 70s I liked, even Montgomery Clift and Marlon Brando before them,” Gray once told Cinemablend. “The types of actors that when you watched them on screen you knew there was something going on inside, there was turmoil inside. That’s an amazing thing you get from an actor.”

James Gray felt like he’d ruined Joaquin Phoenix after seeing the actor’s David Letterman interview

” src=”” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen>

In 2009, Joaquin Phoenix immersed himself in a character he was playing for the Casey Affleck-directed mockumentary I’m Still Here. Unknown to many, the Oscar-winner was even portraying his I’m Still Here character in real life, which led to much confusion.

He maintained the role while being interviewed by talk show host David Letterman. There, he further baffled audiences and the show’s host with his unorthodox behavior. Even those who worked with the actor weren’t sure what to make of Phoenix’s new attitude. This included director Gray.

“If it’s an act, it’s the most committed act I’ve ever seen in my life,” Gray once said in an interview with ABC News. “I mean, he built this studio [in his house]. The lengths to which he’s taken it are quite extreme.”

Around this time, Phoenix shared to others that he was done with acting and looked forward to pursuing a rap career. Gray felt that he’d unknowingly inspired Phoenix’s newfound passion for rap when they collaborated on the film Two Lovers.

“The rap thing…the movie actually comes from something I played for him,” Gray said. “I had an obsession with doing that sort of thing as a teenager…It turns out that Joaquin is imitating me in a lot of the movie. He said, ‘I want to do that, I want to steal from that, I want to do the rap that you used to do.’ I said, ‘Ok.’”

This made Gray feel a little bit guilty for Phoenix’s actions.

“And now I’m seeing him do this thing, and I feel like I’ve ruined Joaquin Phoenix for the world,” Gray said. “I don’t want to be the guy that destroyed Joaquin Phoenix’s acting career.”

Casey Affleck once claimed that James Gray knew that Joaquin Phoenix’s ‘I’m Still Here’ performance was a hoax

” src=”” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen>

Although Gray might have claimed he knew nothing about Phoenix’s I’m Still Here act, Affleck claimed otherwise. The filmmaker behind the movie once divulged that Gray was in on the hoax and was simply playing into the controversy.

“James just wanted people to see his movie,” Affleck once told Roger Ebert. “Magnolia released that as well as my movie and I don’t think a whole lot of people would have seen it if Joaquin didn’t have a beard and hadn’t told people he was retiring. But maybe I’m wrong. James also was told what was going on.”

RELATED: The Heartbreaking Reason Joaquin Phoenix Checked Himself into Rehab