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Joaquin Phoenix Is ‘Embarrassed’ by Behind-the-Scenes Outburst Video, but Is It Real?

Sometimes there’s a fine line between brilliance and insanity, and there’s one actor in Hollywood who truly seems to embody that perplexing balance. ICYMI, there’s a cringeworthy outtake clip of Joaquin Phoenix currently burning up the internet, and it seems to suggest the Joker actor’s deranged character may have worn off on him a little. So, where does the potential brilliance come in? Well, some sources are convinced the entire interaction was (very convincingly) staged.

On Tuesday night, Phoenix visited Jimmy Kimmel Live! to discuss his much-buzzed-about turn as Gotham City’s clown-faced villain. After chatting about how much fun Phoenix had on set, Kimmel decided to drop a clip from an “outtake reel” reportedly sent over by the director. In the uncomfortable footage, Phoenix can be seen cursing at cinematographer Lawrence Sher. At one point, Phoenix references the fact that Sher allegedly compared him to iconic singer Cher — because Phoenix is a “fucking diva.”

After the clip aired, Phoenix appeared to be uncomfortable, commenting that the moment was “so embarrassing” and “intense.” He suggested his publicist would issue a public statement regarding the matter. Not surprisingly, multiple outlets reported the incident, pointing to its extreme secondhand embarrassment effect.

But we’re not convinced Phoenix is genuinely embarrassed, because the clip feels a lot more like one of his elaborate publicity pranks to us. Did Phoenix seem genuinely humbled after watching “his behavior” in the video? Sure. But therein lies the genius of Joaquin Phoenix. The man is disarmingly good at pretending to be bad. Remember his 2010 mockumentary I’m Still Here? How about that bizarre, mumbly interview with David Letterman?

This man is an Oscar-winner. He’s incredibly smart. And, like many wildly intelligent people, he seems to enjoy being a bit odd. So, we suspect his cringeworthy outtake was a joke — maybe even one that he and Kimmel were originally going to reveal on the show. But if Kimmel saw Phoenix take the moment and run with it, we expect he’d play along. Plus, all publicity is good publicity.

Or, hey, maybe it was real and Phoenix has somehow masterminded us into believing it was a rouse. Either way, we can probably all agree that Phoenix is one of the most interesting — albeit puzzling — actors in Hollywood.

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