Joaquin Phoenix's 'I'm Still Here' hoax: Ben Stiller and Diddy were in on it... or so Phoenix says

Joaquin-Phoenix-hoaxImage Credit: PRN/PR Photos (2); Bob Charlotte/PR PhotosCasey Affleck has already admitted that I’m Still Here, his doc chronicling Joaquin Phoenix’s highly public meltdown, is a fake. There was no drug addiction, no rap career, no personal crisis: Just one big prank that Affleck and Pheonix pulled on the entire world. (They aren’t just co-workers: Affleck is married to Phoenix’s sister, Summer.) Phoenix himself came clean on Letterman in September, apologizing to Dave for his notoriously mumbling appearance in February of 2009.

Now, in the movie’s DVD audio commentary (out Nov. 23), Phoenix and Affleck acknowledge that they weren’t the only ones in on the hoax. Almost all the Hollywood stars who appear in the film — including Ben Stiller and Diddy — knew exactly what was going on.

Diddy plays a large role in the film, listening patiently as Phoenix tries to convince him to produce his album. Diddy later defended Phoenix, telling reporters that the actor’s rap career was authentic. But according to Affleck and Phoenix, it was all an act. “Puff was great. He invited us over to his house, and we actually went over and we explained what the movie was to him and you know, sat with him for about a half an hour and sort of talked him through it. And all he said was that he was in,” says Affleck, who did multiple takes of most of Diddy’s scenes. “Puff… took direction very well.”

Stiller, who memorably skewed Phoenix’s persona with a gag at the 2009 Oscars, makes an appearance in one of the film’s tenser scenes, when he tries unsuccessfully to pitch a movie role to Phoenix. “We actually filmed this scene after Joaquin’s appearance on Letterman, after the Oscars, when Ben makes fun of him,” admits Affleck. “And then we went back and we shot this scene so we could put it earlier in the movie and give Ben a reason. We had to sort of justify why [Ben] would be making fun of him that way. Give him a kind of personal motivation. And he was totally game.”

Phoenix also says that his infamous onstage tumble during a rap set at a Las Vegas club was planned — and inspired by Chevy Chase. “Most of my life I’ve been consumed and plagued with the fear of falling or tripping in public for some reason. And any time I walk the red carpet or go on to a talk show or something, I’m certain that I’m going to fall and make a fool of myself. And I just thought that this was kind of a perfect opportunity to see the character fall,” says Phoenix. “I was always a fan of slapstick comedy, and Chevy Chase always used to do this thing where he’d fall over and jump up immediately, like he was fine. And I just basically tried to steal it from him.”

Other stars in on the joke: Natalie Portman and Edward James Olmos. Affleck doesn’t discuss whether Letterman was in the loop, saying only, “He was great.” (A Late Show writer has said Dave knew about Phoenix’s plan.)

Reps for Stiller and Diddy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Read more:
Joaquin Phoenix and the ‘I’m Still Here’ hoax: So maybe he really is as great an actor as Brando
Where does ‘I’m Still Here’ rank among all-time pop culture hoaxes?

Comments (21 total) Add your comment
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  • mike

    Oh come on. Did any really believe that somehow Stiller and Diddy weren’t in on it. It was an obvious hoax from the get-go of filming and you had to be pretty gullible to think otherwsie.

  • John C

    Whatever it was it was a pretty stupid movie. Knowing so and so was in on it just makes it stupider.

    • MIB

      Exactly. Phoenix needs to move away from this whole topic ASAP. Nobody appreciated it; it wasn’t funny, and it totally backfired. He needs to move on and land a good movie role already.

      • wooster182

        I appreciated it. I thought it was a great flick. And it’s not Phoenix starting a story. It’s EW. I think Phoenix probably has moved on.

  • chris c

    There is someone with way to much time on his hands.

  • wooster182

    There’s no story here, EW. Stop insinuating that Phoenix and Affleck are lying to cover their tracks. Diddy was good in the movie but he’s no Olivier. It was obvious that he was acting. Let it go, people.

  • wooster182

    Btw, thanks for the free advertisement! If this wasn’t a ploy to make a story where there isn’t one and instead a way to let us know when the movie comes out, I’m thankful. I’ll pick it up on the 23rd.

  • Ariana

    It’s just dumb. Funny if you watch it, but in no way does it accomplish what they say they wanted to accomplish. It was unfocused and thrown together. The only thing they succeeded at was getting people to talk because no one had a clear picture of what they were doing in public.

  • K.Tinkle

    These three guys need a little more “nose in the corner” time.

  • Moss

    This Movie is what good art stands for,plain and simple,in the sad plain world that has become Hollywood,this movie is original and genius.

    • katy

      I agree, GENIUS! I had no idea it was fake and it turned my stomach for days just assuming and hoping it wasnt real. I havent had a movie have that effect on me EVER, they did the right thing by not telling anyone it was fake…otherwise it wouldnt have gotten the effect it has on you right.

  • Benjamin

    I see it as a sincere attempt by an artist unwilling to take responsibility for his failure. Or he deserves an Oscar for his performance.

  • The Masked Avenger

    Nope, I still say it’s real. I’ll believe it was a hoax when Affleck releases all the extra footage for public perusal so I can see outtakes and screw ups. Until then, I continue to believe Phoenix is batsh*t crazy.

  • humanidee

    A Hoax within a Hoax? I don’t believe this was a Hoax. The DL interview was sad. To see JP in such a state of demise, drug induced and disregarded, devalued and all this after a stellar performance in ‘Walk the Line’…it made sense that his brother-in-law would want to document his intervention and explore the potential JP has in the rap arena. As an artist, JP was not taken seriously, and here he is, backtracking on Letterman some time later, saying it was all a Hoax. Hollywood killed JP’s career and he’s done what he can to resurrect it. The result is pleasing, he’s come through the darkness and he’s still here. Which is more than we can say for past victims and legends, such as Heath Ledger, Kurt Cobain and JP’s own brother River Phoenix. RIP those; and I’m glad you’re still here, Leaf. xx

  • josh Walker

    well done guys on the mocumentary and there is know way P Diddy knew what was going on including Stiller. They both were unconfortable in certain scenes “naturally”. Lets not give P Diddy a wrap as a now ACTOR… Ben Stiller is funny but with poor drama ability’s. They were both informed after the making to prevent them both from looking like fools. Great Job with the film Affleck and JP- an absolute cult classic!

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  • Amie

    Im Still Here made me cry. I thought it was real and it disturbed me to the point that I cried for this man. I care deeply for people and it wounded my soul thinking that he had gone that far down so fast. Joaquin, if you ever take time to read this stuff, which I doubt, know that this was not funny.

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