Joaquin Phoenix's turn from actor to rapper is getting more bizarre by the day.
On David Letterman's "Late Show" Wednesday night, the "Two Lovers" star seemed completely out of it, staring off into space, answering questions with one-word answers and, at one point, sticking gum on the edge of Letterman's desk.
Hiding behind a scraggly beard and dark sunglasses, Phoenix alternated between shifting in his seat and scratching his face throughout the seven-minute-long interview. Early on, Letterman asked if the beard was comfortable.
"I'm OK with it, but now you're making me feel weird about it," Phoenix replied.
Later, the actor-rapper appeared to forget the name of his "Two Lovers'" co-star, Gwyneth Paltrow. When the "Late Show" host said he loved the movie and Phoenix's acting, Phoenix simply said, "Thank you."
He appeared irritated when Letterman asked him to set up a clip from "Two Lovers," saying, "Are you [expletive] kidding? Are you serious with that maniacal laughter? I don't know what the clip is."
Halfway through the interview, after a long pause from his guest, Letterman embraced the opportunity to make a fool of Phoenix.
"So what can you tell me about your days with the Unabomber?" he asked, eliciting howls of laughter from the audience. Phoenix didn't respond.
When Letterman ribbed Phoenix for chewing gum during the interview, Phoenix took the gum out of his mouth and put it on the "Late Show" host's desk.
That seemed to signal the end of the sit-down. Letterman closed the interview by saying, "Joaquin, I'm sorry you couldn't be here tonight."
Phoenix's transition from Oscar-nominated actor to completely out-of-sorts rapper seems too wacky to be true. But earlier this month, Phoenix confirmed his move into the rap music world is no hoax, as had been speculated in various media reports.
"There's not a hoax," Phoenix told The Associated Press. "Might I be ridiculous? Might my career in music be laughable? Yeah, that's possible, but that's certainly not my intention."
Phoenix's debut performance in January was less than auspicious: Three barely comprehensible raps concluded by Phoenix falling off the stage.
How did the audience respond?
"There was a mixture of people clapping," said Mike Snedegar, the head of entertainment marketing at Lavo, the Las Vegas nightclub where Phoenix performed Jan. 9, "and some with weird looks on their faces like, 'What is going on?'"
Phoenix contends the live show was much better than footage posted on the Internet.
"It sucks that, yeah, the footage is out there as like this incredibly bad sound, and you literally can't hear what's happening," he told the AP. "It was much better in the club, and I don't know who said that people were booing … because that was not happening."
"Unless, of course, it's a pretty big place, and maybe it was happening," Phoenix added with a laugh. "But it was not my experience. My experience afterward was I had a lot of dudes come up and say, 'We really respect you for doing it, putting yourself out there, and going with it.' Because I think true hip-hop heads know that it's hard, it's going to be a hard transition, and people are going to be lining up just to make fun of me."