Details magazine - 1995
Joe Dolce of Details magazine sits down with a difficult Joaquin Phoenix for the interview of his life. Just who's interviewing  who here? See for yourself.  

What's the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?  

Open my eyes, take a breath, roll over, and hug my girlfriend Acacia.   

Why did you change your name?  

Well, I was born Joaquin, and for some strange-o reason, when I was six or seven I changed it to Leaf. My dad was raking up all these leaves and it was some weird thing I conjured up. Then as I got older I thought it was stupid, so I went back to the original.   

Somebody once said that what's interesting in beauty are the flaws. Tell me about the scar on your lip.  

When my mom was pregnant with me she was in a hammock on the beach and she got these intense pains, and she felt as if some force, God or whatever, had caused this. Then I'm born. A few weeks later she takes me to the doctor, he sees me and says, "Who did this harelip operation? That's the best operation I've ever seen." Mom said, "No one. He wasn't born with a harelip." I was just born with the scar.   

Were you a nice kid?  

No, I don't think I was. I was a little terror, man. I just wanted to run around and break windows and stuff. Now I just prefer a   
slow hang.   

Do you have many hobbies?  

I did. Thirteen was a happening year for me, man. I tried everything. Painting. Then poetry. You know how you write something when you're young and you like it and you read it like five days later and you're like, "What the hell was that?" That's me.   

Did you finish school?  

I dropped out in ninth grade. A lot of it made me angry, and the final straw, man, I'm doing this home school thing and the motherfuckers send a dead bloated frog to my house to dissect.   

Tell me about meeting Michael Jackson.  

I was doing this movie, SpaceCamp, and he was filming something next door and I was like, "Oh my God, it's Michael Jackson! And I hear he's a vegetarian." Vegetarians were so lame in the '80s, because if there was another vegetarian in the vicinity they'd freak out: There's someone like me! I was like, "Hey dude, here's a cookbook. Merry Christmas."   

I read the transcript of the phone call you made to 911 the night your brother died. The operator is being difficult, and you keep saying, "Please...thank you..." How did you manage to be so polite?  

You know, hmmm...I don't want that question.   

Well, do you ever feel like you have a hard act to follow?  

Listen, I can't believe people actually want to share this kind of shit with strangers. It's so personal. I guess some people speak to each other through a magazine, but I don't really feel that need. I mean, how much real, good, and important stuff is packed between these pictures of perfect people with perfect hair? I have always hated the whole styley shit. I think it's unhealthy.   

In other words you hate magazines.  

Let's not be so harsh, eh? That's lovely, you doing that little pimple popping on your arm.   

What's so lovely about it?  

That you don't give a damn. I notice you have a few questions written down about sex and hair. Why sex?   

Everyone wants answers. Do you have any?  

Of course I don't.   
 Are you shy?  

I don't know. Do I seem shy to you? I'm a little nervous, you talking to me like anything I have to say is important.   

Actually you seem more coy than shy.  

That's why Acacia should be here. She could tell you better than me. Oh, here she is.   

(Acacia comes out on the porch)  

Acacia: How's it going?  

Oh, he's mumbling so much.  

Acacia: He does that.  

And he doesn't want to tell me anything.  

Acacia: He does that too. (she goes back in the house)  

What's gonna happen to you if you become a teenage heartthrob?  

I'm gonna eat a lot and gain weight. Then I'm gonna scar my face.   

You already have a scar.  

I don't think it'll happen. I'm such a geek. Do you think I'm being a jerk by not being happy about the prospect?   

I think you're being quite honest.  

You can be honest and still be a jerk.   

Do you wear the same clothes every day?  

Yo, if I buy something comfortable, then I'm gonna wear it a lot...but I own three pairs of pants and I'll bounce between them.   

How many pairs of underwear do you own?  

Quite a few. Boxers.   

What, no briefs? Too confining?  

I'm not answering that! I never really wore underwear most of my life. Hey, did you purposely leave that little patch of hair under your chin when you were shaving this morning?   

No, I spaced out and missed that. But thanks for pointing it out.  

No, it's wonderful! Hey, you're a wild dude. You're wild fuckin' guacamole.   

You're stressed out, aren't you? Look at your nails.  

I bite them, yes. I used to smoke. Now I eat my thumbs.   

How did you like yourself in To Die For?   

It was painful, difficult. I'm not too fond of myself. I don't really like me.   

I thought you were the best thing since sliced bread.   

Hey, do you know how they slice bread? I just bought a breadmaker and I've been making a lot of wheat bread. It's really easy -- you just press go and it kneads it and then it rises and bakes it. And it's really good, really fluffy. But I have a problem cutting it.   

So, Joaq, now that we're done, do you still feel as if you have to protect yourself?  


Do you think that by talking, part of your soul will be taken away?  

I think it already has.   

Copyright 1995 Details Magazine