Is Director James Gray To Blame For Joaquin Phoenix’s Rap Career?

'That rap thing ... actually comes from something I played for him,' director says.

[movieperson id="166907"]Joaquin Phoenix[/movieperson] continues to amaze.

Hot on the heels of his rather, uh, remarkable appearance on “The Late Show with David Letterman” — which came hot on the heels of his beef with celebrity DJ Dan Sun and his publicist’s insistence that the actor’s hip-hop career is legit — there’s now another layer to add to the growing Phoenix legend.

On Wednesday night, MTV News attended the premiere of [movie id="365289"]“Two Lovers,”[/movie] which, if the hype is to be believed, will be Phoenix’s final film. We attempted to speak to the actor/rapper on the red carpet, but he didn’t stop to answer any questions. Instead, we managed to grab “Lovers” director James Gray, who gave us this piece of news about the validity of Phoenix’s rap career.

“All I know is the guy built a studio in his house, and it’s not just some halfway job. He built this recording studio,” Gray said. “And I … I mean I … [his music] is not my taste, but he’s free to do what he wants. I can’t be any more elaborate with you, because I don’t know any more than that.”

As for the quality of those songs Phoenix is working on, well, Gray hasn’t heard any of them in their final form. But he’s doubtful he’d ever throw a Phoenix cut onto the soundtrack of one of his films.

“I haven’t heard any recordings yet. So it’s hard for me to say [but] probably not — it’s not really my taste. But maybe, I don’t know, you never know. You never want to say never. I don’t know,” Gray said. “I haven’t heard, like, fully-produced stuff yet. He was sort of working on it when I was last at his house. I don’t know. I can’t be more specific than that, because I don’t know any more. He’s Joaquin, you know, he’s his own man. He marches to the beat of his own drummer.”

The following morning, Gray did another interview — this one with ABC Radio — where he said that he wasn’t aware of Phoenix’s abrupt career shift while they were working on “Two Lovers,” but added that, in retrospect, he can’t help but feel somewhat responsible for awakening the microphone fiend within the actor. Especially given one scene in the film, where Phoenix’s character does an awkward freestyle.

“That rap thing … in the movie actually comes from something I played for him,” Gray told ABC Radio’s David Blaustein. “I had an obsession with doing that sort of thing as a teenager. … It turns out that Joaquin is imitating me in a lot of the movie. He said, ‘I want to do that, I want to steal from that, I want to do the rap that you used to do.’ I said, ‘OK.’ ”

Check out everything we’ve got on “Two Lovers.”

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