Joaquin Phoenix Keeps People Guessing On and Off Screen
(l-r) Joaquin Phoenix as Doc Sportello and Reese Witherspoon as Hope Harlingen in INHERENT VICE. ©Warner Bros. Entertainment. CR: Wilson Webb.

(l-r) Joaquin Phoenix as Doc Sportello and Reese Witherspoon as Hope Harlingen in INHERENT VICE. ©Warner Bros. Entertainment. CR: Wilson Webb.

By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features

HOLLYWOOD—The big question this week in Hollywood was: Is he or isn’t he? The “he” in question is Joaquin Phoenix and the question was “Is he really engaged to his yoga instructor or not?”

On Monday’s “Late Night with David Letterman,” the three-time Oscar nominee told the talk show host he had popped the question to his yoga instructor, and “if everything works out” he would be getting married.

The very next day, the 40-year-old performer revealed to George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America” that he wasn’t engaged and, in fact, he made up the whole story on “Letterman” to make the audience happy.

“I think my life’s so boring, and it seemed like something exciting to talk about, and I wanted the audience to like me,” he said on the morning talk show. “They really like people getting married.”

Phoenix, who had pulled an odd stunt on Letterman five years ago, has been making the rounds on talk shows to promote his new movie, the early ‘70s set comedy “Inherent Vice.” In the Paul Thomas Anderson-directed film, the actor plays a private detective named Doc Sportello, who is asked by his former girlfriend to help foil a plot by her new boyfriend’s wife and her lover to institutionalize her real estate mogul husband.

As the pot-smoking private eye digs deeper into his investigation, he becomes part of a complicated web that involves a young runaway, a cop that has it in for him, an underground dentist ring and a mysterious schooner suspected of bringing illegal goods into the country.

Based on the Thomas Pynchon 2009 novel, the film’s star-laden cast includes Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro, Owen Wilson, Jena Malone and Reese Witherspoon, with whom he co-starred in the acclaimed Johnny Cash biopic. Witherspoon plays a lawyer in L.A.’s district attorney’s office who feeds him information.

Just a day before the whole “is he or isn’t he” brouhaha started, Phoenix spoke at a downtown hotel about his starring role, working with Anderson and reuniting onscreen with Witherspoon. He also hinted at his comparatively boring life outside of his work that may have led to his latest media misadventure.

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