Joaquin Phoenix and Mike Mills Made the Parenting Film of the 12 months
Outside on the balcony he sometimes hops around, listens attentively to others, reacts with his face when something grabs his ear, bites his nails when he’s bored, asks Mills real questions about his direction and jumps up from the time time to fetch some potatoes from one of those silver hotel platters that came over for him in the suite. He wears tinted glasses and a black “Support the Animal Liberation Front” sweatshirt. He’s carrying some extra weight (and the horn owl haircut) from Ari Aster’s next film, Disappointment Blvd., which was just filmed in Montreal. He really just acts a little mischievously all the time. The only thing he seems to enjoy more than the sound of jackhammers in Midtown is the sirens.
I ask Phoenix if it’s any different playing a character that isn’t based on someone or something that people already know – a character like Johnny who is so boring every day that as an actor there is a lot you can do about them Swinging things one way or another without people saying, ‘Hey, Johnny Cash wouldn’t have said that like that.’ When the character evolved into something that you need to embody, how does that happen?
Is it mysterious?
Is there some way to play someone who – maybe there is a novel in advance or a real person -?
“It’s all stupid.”
Mills starts to crack.
“It’s all so stupid. For real! It is, isn’t it? “Mills laughs even more – and at least Phoenix is smiling now.” It’s so wonderful and it’s beautiful and it’s fantastic. You just sit around, you go, Oh, I enjoy which one Reason to always be in the company of this person, we just start talking, maybe we talk about things that have nothing to do with each other, and then we discover: Wow, that’s actually directing us right into the heart of this moment, we fucking didn’t realize it. You surrender to the creative process, whatever it is that is beyond my understanding or control. And I don’t fucking want to control it. And that’s it for me. So um to say … I can’t really tell you. I’d shit to try. “
I suggest this is probably more honest than those who say they are deliberately and relentlessly creating a character months in advance.
“But I think that’s true too!” Says Phoenix. “I think all of these things exist at the same time. It’s anything that inspires or makes you think. Sometimes you sit down and read something. Sometimes it’s some of the NPR shows we’ve listened to … it’s hard to tell where the inspiration comes from. I try to consume as much as possible and not control it like not dictating what will inspire me. But I think it was mostly sitting around and talking, right? “
Every movie is different, says Mills, because it’s made up of the relationships between the people who make it, a collective relationship that creates a unique shape that is unique to that movie. Mills says he’s trying to get a movie set together like it’s “a dinner party – a nice one. With my friends. ”This is what he says to his assistant director:“ We are the hosts and they are the guests. ”The mood of a Mike Mills set / party is one, he says, at which he does not know the destination exactly and therefore relies on it leaves that each of the guests take it there. Mills describes how he, Phoenix, and Gaby Hoffmann (who plays Phoenix’s sister) all seem to thrive with “that thing of not knowing how it is going to work, or where the thing that helps you is. I love that. And I think we all have that mood. ”That’s how it worked for all the actors, says Mills, even Woody Norman, who played 9-year-old Jesse. Everyone, he says, helped steer the ship.