The actor explains why he falsely told David Letterman he got engaged

By Tim Nudd
Updated January 06, 2015 12:30 PM

Don’t believe everything you hear celebrities say on talk shows. Particularly if that celebrity is Joaquin Phoenix.

The actor, 40, whose infamously dazed (though staged) appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman in 2009 is the stuff of late-night legend (in the end, it was all a hoax for his 2010 mockumentary I’m Still Here), admits he lies on talk shows all the time.

“Everybody lies on talk shows,” he said Tuesday in an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Case in point: In a return to Letterman’s show in December, Phoenix said he was engaged. But it turned out that wasn’t true.

So, why did he make it up?

“I wanted the audience to like me,” he said with a smile. “And they always like you when you get engaged. Everyone applauds.”

“That’s hilarious,” replied DeGeneres, who then made Phoenix tell her audience he’s engaged – and indeed, they applauded as well.

Amid other meta antics on DeGeneres’s show – he paused for uncomfortable stretches after several of her questions – Phoenix also managed to talk about his new movie, Inherent Vice, in which his character smokes marijuana.

Asked if he prepared for the role by doing a little a dope himself, Phoenix replied: “I actually started preparing in the late ’90s.”

But of course, that’s probably not true.