Academy Award nominated actor Joaquin Phoenix is no stranger to genre cinema, having previously appeared in the likes of 8mm, Gladiator, Signs, and The Village. In fact, he just signed on to work for M. Night Shyamalan again in another low budget shocker to follow-up the director’s film The Visit, which hits theaters this month. Overall one might label Phoenix a dramatic character actor and that seems to suit him just fine. He appears to enjoy the freedom afforded him by such a path, both in terms of performance and his choice of projects.
Speaking to Time Out London, Phoenix recently explained exactly why he has passed on roles like Doctor Strange for Marvel, as well as other big blockbuster roles…
There was talk of you playing Doctor Strange for Marvel, but the role went to Benedict Cumberbatch. Would you ever be up for making a big film like that, or even a ‘Star Wars’?
‘Sure. When I was younger I was probably a bit of a snob about that. But they’ve gotten better. I’ve flirted with several of those films, having meetings and getting close, but ultimately it never felt like they’d really be fulfilling. There were too many requirements that went against my instincts for character. I’ve been spoiled. I’ve never had to make those compromises. I’ve not met a director yet with one of those films where we go through the script, they say: “You know what, fuck this set-piece, let’s focus on the character!” I understand, but it’s best I don’t do it.’
Do you think those filmmakers end up thinking you’re awkward or hard to please?
‘Yeah, but I’m not just being difficult. I’m just trying to find what works for me. I don’t want to commit to something and not fulfill those obligations. I enjoy watching those movies. Did you see the rebooted “Star Trek”? That kid Chris Pine who plays Kirk is fucking genius. I just don’t know if I want to have the experience of being in them. I’ve read some of those scripts and 75 percent is a description of some asteroid going through space.’
While it would be fun to see what he might bring to such roles, you can’t really blame the guy. Just because he likes watching them does not mean he would like to be in one, much like how I love watching all kinds of films, but rarely feel the need to write about each and everyone one or explore every genre in my writing. We all have varied tastes, but in the end, some things speak to us more than others, be it in movies, television, books, music, etc. You have to follow what inspires you and if Phoenix doesn’t feel inspired enough about comic book movies or mega-budget adaptations in general, it’s best he stay away. The only thing worse than not seeing an actor you love participate in a genre you love is having them show up physically, but not giving it their all.
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