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Joaquin Phoenix on His ‘Terrible’ New Rap Career

So you might not have heard that Joaquin Phoenix has a movie coming out — James Gray’s Two Lovers, in which he plays a bipolar Brooklynite torn between a pair of women (Gwyneth Paltrow and Vinessa Shaw), only one of whom may be ultimately right for him. Naturally, though, since Phoenix has retired from acting, grown a beard, and embarked upon a rap career that most think is a hoax, discussion of Gray’s film was relegated to the back burner during a small roundtable interview yesterday in Los Angeles. Between cigarettes and Ricola cough drops, Phoenix had these thoughts to share.

On quitting acting: “I just don’t feel challenged by acting anymore. I don’t enjoy the process anymore. I’ve enjoyed it very much at times, I’m very thankful for the people that I’ve had the opportunity to work with. I’ve had a good life, it’s been amazing, I’m not complaining, it’s not like acting just ruined me so I just have to leave. I’m just done with it. I didn’t realize it was going to be such a big deal, I thought nobody would give a fuck, really to be to be frank. And I was pretty surprised. I guess no one does except for maybe like a couple people that are blogging or whatever.”

On how his hip-hop career is going so far: “Uh, terrible. No, it’s kind of weird. I did a lot of free-styling around the studio and I’ve gone to small places, and I guess some people there filmed it and shit, and put it out there. But it’s been really nerve-wracking, because there’s literally people there heckling you. It was really difficult, I got really nervous. But the show in Vegas I think was a lot better than people think or what’s been said, because of how it appears in the video. Still, I have to stay I’m not really there yet.”

On his stage dive: “I didn’t fucking fall! First of all, it’s not a stage, it’s about this wide [indicates about four feet], you’re up on this little platform, there’s fucking lights everywhere, right in your eyes, flashing at you like that, and everything is dark, and I literally just went to step off the thing and misjudged and slipped down. I wasn’t fucked up. I fell down and I literally jumped back up without harm and said, ‘I’m fine.’ But, I honestly was so nervous that I don’t feel like I really was aware of what was happening until I was halfway through the second song.”

On the “source” who told EW that his rap career is a hoax: “I would say the people who said that this is all a hoax are clearly somebody who is an old friend, or somebody that I worked with on music. You know, I’ve worked with a lot of people on music in the past, and oftentimes those things don’t work out. Sometimes you have some bad blood between people, and that’s all that I imagine where it comes from. I realize that part of it might seem ridiculous to other people, but I can’t concern myself with that. I’m not gonna be worried about what people think my life is. What people think has never affected my decisions, and I’m not gonna let that start now.”

On reports that Diddy is producing his album: “Um, I don’t know how much I can say. I’ll just say that we are going to work together shortly. As to whether that will be a complete album or not, I don’t know, but I’m doing a lot of the music and production. I love doing the music, I love programming beats and kind of working on the music, as much if not more than the actual rapping. I mean, I hate fucking saying ‘rapping,’ it just sounds ridiculous. I wish there was another fucking word for what I do, because I don’t think of myself as a rapper.”

On other potential guests: I want Dermot Mulroney, you know that actor? He’s an amazing cellist. I’ve know him for years, and he’s played a couple things on some older stuff. I’d like to work with him some more.”

On that album’s status: “I have ten songs now, and three of them I think are really good, including one called “Can I Get a Refund?” and one called “If You’re Going to San Francisco.” The others I think are pretty crap but I’ll work on them.”

On his message: “I don’t have a message.”

Joaquin Phoenix on His ‘Terrible’ New Rap Career