Joaquin Phoenix, whose portrayal of Johnny Cash in “Walk the Line” earned him a Golden Globe nomination for best actor, will return with a familiar director for his follow-up project.
The actor is teaming again with James Gray for a movie called “We Own the Night,” co-starring Eva Mendes and Robert Duvall. Gray last worked with Phoenix on 2000’s “The Yards,” a gritty crime drama with Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron and James Caan.
Phoenix declined to comment on the plot of the movie in an interview on Saturday but said shooting will start in February in New York.
“We Own the Night” will derail Phoenix from his latest career move, directing music videos. Since helming “Tired of Being Sorry (a.k.a. Spanishfaster)” for his friends in Ringside (see “Joaquin Phoenix Lifts Ringside Clip From Pretender To Contender” ), the actor has signed on with a production company and directed two more videos, for People in Planes’ “If You Talk Too Much (My Head Will Explode)” and She Wants Revenge’s “Tear You Apart” (see “Fred Durst Gets Revenge With New Flawless Signing” ).
“We shot that Ringside clip and I really loved the process,” Phoenix explained during a break on the “Tear You Apart” set. “I spoke with Anonymous Content [the production company behind veterans like Mark Romanek and David Fincher] and said that I’d like to do some more stuff if anything comes up. And so they would just send me songs every now and then, and I would just write [treatments] on them, and I wrote on a bunch and nothing happened. And I kind of thought it would never happen again and then this clip came up for the band People in Planes and then right after that She Wants Revenge. So I just did these back to back.”
The directing work has kept the humble Phoenix happily distracted from the Oscar buzz behind his “Walk the Line” performance, although he did take the time for one special event tied in to the biopic last week. The actor, accompanied by Shooter Jennings (who plays his father Waylon Jennings in “Walk the Line”), premiered the movie and performed some Cash songs for inmates at Folsom State Prison in Represa, California, where Cash famously recorded his comeback live album.
“It was unbelievable,” Phoenix said of the show, which he began by telling the prisoners, “’I know you guys would probably rather see Reese [Witherspoon, his ’Walk the Line’ co-star].”
“I think it’s really what John would’ve wanted,” he continued. “I was screening the film in different places around the country and in Europe and I’d introduce the movie and just really felt that that’s where we should play it. So it was an unbelievable experience to go in there. We played a couple songs, and I hadn’t sung or played since we finished the movie, so it was kind of funny.”
So now that Phoenix — who jokingly apologized to the inmates for “messing up like 40 times” — has knocked the rust off, will he be hitting the road for any more Cash tributes?
“No, I won’t be performing [again],” he said, laughing at the notion. “That was it.”
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