Scenes from the much-anticipated documentary, directed by Casey Affleck, show Phoenix in fuzzy detail, performing in front of crowds at clubs, fighting through throngs of fans at David Letterman's "Late Show," hugging it out with rap mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs, and bowing his head at church. For much of the trailer, he's behind sunglasses and a bushy beard, though one clip shows his bare pot belly protruding in all its glory, Hollywood fitness standards be damned.
The movie hits theaters September 10. The run up to its release has been anything but ordinary.
Last month, two staffers filed lawsuits accusing Affleck, the younger brother of actor Ben Affleck, of sexual harassment. Cinematographer Magdalena Gorka and producer Amanda White claim Affleck repeatedly made derogatory comments towards them.
Their legal complaints detail specific greivances: Gorka claims Affleck groped her as she slept; White says Affleck violently grabbed her after she refused to sleep in the same hotel room with him.
While other female staffers have publicly defended the filmmaker in the wake of the lawsuits, Brian Procel, the lawyer for White and Gorka, told ABCNews.com that his clients' allegations are just the tip of the iceberg in what he calls a mounting case against Affleck.
Affleck's attorney, Marty Singer, asserts White and Gorka's cases have no merit. He contends neither woman complained on set and questions the validity of their claims, arguing they were filed more than 15 months after the alleged incidents happened.
Earlier this month, Singer filed arbitration claims before the American Arbitration Association accusing Gorka and White of breach of contract.
From the start, the story of "I'm Still Here" has been anything but straightforward. When Phoenix transformed from a clean cut, Oscar-nominated thespian into a bearded, perpetually sunglasses-clad wannabe emcee in 2009, his act seemed like a prank. Then Affleck, who is married to Phoenix's sister, revealed he was documenting Phoenix's journey and asserted it was 100-percent real.
"I wanted to explore what I thought would be an interesting period in his life," Affleck told ABC News Now's "Popcorn With Peter Travers" in May. "He said he didn't want to act anymore, he wanted to try doing music, and that, right there, says something's going to happen ... I had no idea what exactly was going to happen and all that would unfold and every day I spent with him on this journey."
"It ended up being more and more fascinating, more and more things happened that were both in the public spectacle and a very private internal implosion that I got to witness," Affleck added. "It made for this unbelievable, one-of-a-kind movie."
Affleck reportedly struggled to find a distributor for the movie. According to the Los Angeles Times, potential buyers who screened the film in May saw some things they didn't quite expect.
To quote the L.A. Times' John Horn: "Several buyers said the film overflowed with Hollywood debauchery, including more male frontal nudity than you'd find in some gay porn films and a stomach-turning sequence in which someone feuding with Phoenix defecates on the actor while he's asleep."