Joaquin Phoenix's brief 'engagement' on Letterman

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

NEW YORK (AP) — Chalk up another oddball appearance with David Letterman for actor Joaquin Phoenix, who announced his "engagement" on the CBS late-night host's talk show only to say hours later on Tuesday that it was a joke.

Before he came clean on "Good Morning America," news of Phoenix's supposed impending wedding to his yoga instructor spread widely on several legitimate news sources.

"I can get engaged again if you like," Phoenix told ABC's George Stephanopoulos after telling him he wasn't really ready to get hitched.

Phoenix's oddball appearance on Letterman's "Late Show" in February 2009, punctuated by several moments of uncomfortable silence, became one of late-night TV's first viral videos. Letterman memorably called that session to a close by saying, "I'm sorry you couldn't be here tonight."

By using Letterman's stage to announce a false engagement five years later, was Phoenix enacting a little revenge?

It was "just Joaquin's extraordinary and spontaneous sense of humor," said his spokesman, Susan Patricola.

On the "Late Show" on Monday, Phoenix got down on the stage to demonstrate "the harnessing of the hog," a supposed move his yoga instructor had taught him.

"This is the crazy part of the story," Phoenix said upon returning to Letterman's couch. "We started dating and I think she's the one. I proposed to her and she said yes."

Letterman seemed physically taken aback by the statement, pushing his chair back from his desk.

"You're getting married?" he said.

Yes, said Phoenix, if everything works out.

A few hours after Letterman's appearance had been taped, CBS' press representatives emailed a video clip with the subject line, "Joaquin Phoenix announces engagement on tonight's 'Late Show with David Letterman' on CBS!" There was no indication it wasn't serious, and several news organization, including ABC, Us Weekly and E! Entertainment, did stories.

Letterman's representatives did not immediately return messages seeking comment Tuesday.

Phoenix, who is making publicity rounds for a new movie, shot down the marriage story on "Good Morning America."

"I think, like, my life is so boring, it seemed like it was something exciting to talk about," he said. "I just want the audience to like me and they really like people who are getting married."