Joaquin Phoenix says his role in “C’mon C’mon” has restored his love for the actress

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Hollywood legend has it that the orery comedy superstar had WC Fields a main character for all his films: “Never work with animals or children.” Out of respect for Fields, however, Joaquin Phoenix – who shares the screen with 11-year-old Woody Norman in the famous new drama, Come Come – would not agree. “Our old friend WC never worked with Woody,” Phoenix told Yahoo Entertainment with a laugh. “He was the spotlight of our lives [during production] and becomes the focus of the film, and we encouraged that f ***.

Written and directed by Mike Mills, Come Come is Phoenix’s first star tour since the actor’s Oscar-winning performance in Todd Phillips’ divisive DC Comics adaptation, Joker. And as far as appearance and personality are concerned, his hangdog Public Radio journalist, Johnny, is not even in the same zip code as the skinny-thin, emotionally-disturbed Arthur Fleck. Johnny’s main character talks to kids about their hopes, dreams and fears for the future, but he leads a childless single guy existence when the mics are out.

Joaquin Phoneix stars in the new drama, C'mon C'mon (Photo: A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection)

Joaquin Phoneix plays in the new drama, Come Come (Photo: A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection)

That changes when his sister, Viv (Gaby Hoffman), has to take care of her bipolar husband (Scooter McNairy), and asks Johnny to look after his nephew, Jesse (Norman) – a precocious child he has not watched in person for many hours. along with. Unable to take the time off work, he finally takes Jesse to the streets and gets a crash course and what it means to take care of a child.

Mills was inspired to write Come Come based on his own experience as a father. (He shares a young boy with his wife, filmmaker Miranda Juli.) “The only reason I was able to make this film is because of all the gifts my child gave me,” says the writer / director. “I wanted to write about all the time I spent as a dad, and the stage of being with a young person – try to give them full respect and not treat them as cute or sweet or anything like that. You want them as treating a full being in all the challenges, weaknesses, and love they bring back to you. ”

Phoenix and Woody Norman in a scene from C'mon C'mon (Photo: A24 / Powered by Everett Collection)

Phoenix and Woody Norman in one scene Come Come. (Photo: A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection)

Phoenix welcomed his own son – named after his late brother, River Phoenix – with his partner, Rooney Mara, just before the production of the film began. The actor refuses to discuss this side of his life, but he is willing to reflect on his own experience as a child star in the 1980s and how it informed his on- and off-screen relationship with Norman.

Phoenix’s earliest roles were guest appearances on such era-defining television programs Hill Street Blues in the The Fall Guy, before graduating to high-concept feature films such as SpaceCamp, Russian in the Elterendeel. (He was credited as “Leaf Phoenix” during that period of his career, back to his birth name with Gus Van Sant’s Dark Comedy 1995, To die.)

“I remember talking to Mike, and just saying how happy Woody was to have this as one of his early experiences for movies,” Phoenix now says. “I remember the moment when Woody saw a new side of Jesse in a certain scene. That was something I was familiar with: I remember having similar moments when I was around that age, and it was awful for me. to see a witness. otherwise have this experience, because it’s something I’ve been hunting since. “

Phoenix (center) had his first major feature film role in the 1986 hit, SpaceCamp, alongside (from l to r) Kelly Preston, Tate Donovan, Kate Capshaw, Lea Thompson and Larry B. Scott.  (Photo: Courtesy Everett Collection)

Phoenix, downtown, had its first major feature film role in the 1986 hit SpaceCamp, next, from left, Kelly Preston, Tate Donovan, Kate Capshaw, Lea Thompson and Larry B. Scott. (Photo: Courtesy Everett Collection)

“The truth is, if you make so many movies, there will inevitably be times when inspiration may disappear,” Phoenix continues. “When I worked with Woody, I was constantly reminded of what I like about the actress. Every day was lively and different; you did not know what to expect best.”

While Mills knows of Phoenix’s own child star past, he admits that SpaceCamp in the Russian passed him by as he entered the multiplex in the 80s as a teenager. “My filmmaking has always been so pretentious, so I have not seen many of those films,” he says, laughing. “What I like to do Come Come puts a child into a naturalistic, adult movie. That was exciting for me, and I felt really confident that I would go to an interesting place.

Mills says that Norman

Mills says Norman “jumped out” among the young actors who auditioned Come Come. (Photo: A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection)

As Mills recalled, finding a child who could deliver the kind of naturalistic performance he was after was the biggest challenge of the production. “Joaquin was always the person I wanted for Johnny’s role, and we were both like, ‘Who the hell is playing Jesse?'” If we could not find someone we really believed in, then we did not have a movie. ”This led to some casting sessions where Phoenix would“ hang out ”with different kids, effect parts of the script, or just play for the camera.

“Woody just went out [of that group]”, Mills says.” He was a kid with comic timing, and she felt like two strong souls and two smart people to me. One of the major themes of the film is that they are similar, and not just by the genetic stuff. Their souls have a resemblance, and I bought it when I saw the picture of Joaquin and Woody together.

Come Come Premiere November 19 at the Cinema