When Joaquin Phoenix told Interview magazine last month that the Oscars are “total, utter bullsh-t,” he either ruined his chances of being nominated for his performance in The Master — or clinched it. The two-time Oscar nominee revisited his remarks in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, expressing his surprise that his comments made waves but also crediting the Academy for giving him the success that he has. “I haven’t been in a lot of movies that have made a lot of money,” he said. “And getting nominated for a movie has probably helped my career tremendously. But in some ways it’s the antithesis of what you want to be as an actor. You’re always trying to free yourself of the artifice, which is really difficult. Especially when you suck, like me.”
Phoenix sidestepped the question of whether he would attend the Oscars if he was nominated. (For the record, he attended previously when he was nominated for Gladiator and Walk the Line.) ”It’s not like I f—ing hate the Oscars,” he said. “‘What I was reacting to was sometimes the reverence that we have about these things. I don’t want to revere it.”
Phoenix could not have been more “Joaquin-y” in his latest remarks, but if you read both interviews in their entirety, he was expressing nothing more and nothing less than the views of someone who is severely uncomfortable with Oscar campaigns. Calling the Oscars “total, utter, bullsh-t” may have been the headline — and as he told the Herald, “I guess I [sounded] like a d–k” — but he would not be the first actor to flinch at the extensive selling of a film during Oscar season, when actors are expected to campaign for votes while pitted against each other in a horse-race mentality. As he said in the first interview, “It’s not like I’m in this place where I think I’m just above it — but I just don’t ever want to get comfortable with that part of things.”
For a guy who often doubts his own ability to express himself in interviews, I’d say he’s better than most.