cannes 2017

No One Is More Shocked Than Joaquin Phoenix That He Won Best Actor at Cannes

Photo: Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Joaquin Phoenix’s total shock at being named Best Actor may go down as the cutest, most genuine moment at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. To be fair, the awards ceremony is super-confusing for an English speaker. In Phoenix’s case, all he heard were a bunch of words in French with his name buried in the middle. But as the audience applauded and the camera panned over him, ready to follow him down the aisle to the stage, Phoenix just sat there. And sat there. And then finally turned to his girlfriend, Rooney Mara, and mouthed, “Do I have to go up there?”

We’re assuming Rooney told him he did, because he eventually made it up there to get his golden-leaf prize for Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here, in which Phoenix plays an ex-military vigilante-for-hire who rescues young girls from child sex rings with a hammer as his only weapon. (Diane Kruger won Best Actress for her astounding work in In the Fade as a woman who loses her family in terrorist attack.) The last film to play in competition, YWNRH had premiered at 10 p.m. the night before the awards, and we’d seen Joaquin nuzzling Rooney’s neck as they headed home around 2 a.m. Chances are the guy was mad tired. “This was totally unexpected, as you can see from my shoes,” he said onstage, gesturing at the Converse sneakers he’d worn with his tuxedo to the most fancy event of a very fancy festival. “I don’t wear leather and my shoes were sent home on the plane!”

Later at a press conference, an unusually chipper and charming Phoenix admitted he hadn’t even thought anyone would like the film. “Before I came here, I told my girlfriend it was going to be a really good experience because I was going to get crushed and that would be really humbling. I thought it would be great to know what it’s like to be unanimously disliked. That was my expectation coming here, so this is, um, better.” And as for why he didn’t go up right away, he explained, French protocol is confusing, and there were a bunch of people standing up around him at the same time they announced his name, so he just couldn’t figure out what was going on. “I thought it would be really fucked up if I went up onstage and they were like, ‘No, no you don’t have to go up.’ It sounds naive to say it now. Like, of course you go up.”

At least by the end of the press conference, he seemed a little more prepared to soak in the adulation. He took pictures with anyone who asked, and seemed genuinely sad when the moderator cut off questions. And he seemed proud, in the end, of what he’d done up there. As he asked the room, “Did you like my shoes?”

Joaquin Phoenix Is Shocked He Won Best Actor At Cannes