(Interviewer) MITCHELL: So what are you going to do when they put you on the awards circuit for The Master?
PHOENIX: You’re out of your mind, dude. You’re out of touch with what has happened.
MITCHELL: I think we’ve established that you’re the one who’s out of his mind. [Phoenix laughs] You don’t think that’s going to happen?
PHOENIX: I’m just saying that I think it’s bullshit. I think it’s total, utter bullshit, and I don’t want to be a part of it. I don’t believe in it. It’s a carrot, but it’s the worst-tasting carrot I’ve ever tasted in my whole life. I don’t want this carrot. It’s totally subjective. Pitting people against each other … It’s the stupidest thing in the whole world. It was one of the most uncomfortable periods of my life when Walk the Line was going through all the awards stuff and all that. I never want to have that experience again. I don’t know how to explain it—and it’s not like I’m in this place where I think I’m just above it—but I just don’t ever want to get comfortable with that part of things.
MITCHELL: You’ve got to have some cool stuff coming your way now, though.
PHOENIX: Yeah. I finished something this summer.
MITCHELL: Is that the thing you did in China?
PHOENIX: Yeah. Spike Jonze directed it. I’ve been incredibly fortunate—I just get to work with brilliant people. But it’s funny because I was having this conversation with a friend … There was this period after I’m Still Here when I was getting a lot of big-money offers because they were crap things. I think a lot of people were like, “He’s fucked. He’s desperate.” These offers were, like, a lot of money—maybe not for other actors, but definitely for me. But I don’t want that power. I don’t want $20-million power.
MITCHELL: But isn’t that a way to get in there and change things—when you get that kind of money?
PHOENIX: Yeah, but you could also end up just being another motherfucker who gave up on their ideals. To get to that place where you’re making those movies? I just don’t know many people who have made it and kept their identity. I’ve never made $20 million. I’m scared. I don’t know if you gave me The Ring if I could carry it and bring it to Ozamorph, or whatever you call it. I think I’d put it on and test it out—especially if somebody was like, “It’ll be a crazy, wild time.” I’ll be like, “Yeah, I’ll try this bitch on.” I don’t know if I could take it back off. I don’t know that I’m strong enough. I’d like to think that I was strong enough … But I’m getting there. [x]