My friend Justin works on music videos in LA. A couple months ago, I had the chance to go with him to watch Joaquin Phoenix direct a video for the band She Wants Revenge. I had been hearing a lot about them, and their single was starting to get a lot of play, but more I was excited to see Joaquin Phoenix. This wasn't long after the release of Walk the Line, and Joaquin's brilliant performance as Johnny Cash. That movie moved me so much, watching love's patient victory over pain.
Seeing him work that day, I saw some of the madness that I remembered from his Johnny Cash role. Joaquin seems a guy who lives out there on that edge. In a single take, you would see him move from defeat to celebration, wearing both on his sleeve. And I liked that he was about the song, his leg always bouncing with the drum beat. I liked his passion.
But here's the thing that stayed with me: Joaquin writes things on his arms. By that I mean, he doesn't have a notebook (or an assistant with a notebook). Ideas, things to do, it's all there, in Sharpie scribble on his arms. It didn't make sense and I liked that. Here's one of the biggest guys in Hollywood, running around with crap written all over him, on a day when MTV was there to film. This isn't normal stuff. If you're going to write things on your arms, people are going to see. They're going to see what's on your mind and they're going to think you're weird. I liked the possibility that he didn't care what people thought. I thought it would be cool to live like that, to be about things and to be bold about them.
I came home and there was some hard stuff happening with my family. On a couple different days, I wrote "love" on my arm. It was for me, a reminder I guess, and I decided I was okay with people seeing it. Love is a pretty good thing for people to see.
A couple weeks later I met another fan of Walk the Line. She said she needed the movie, to see Johnny Cash beat his addiction meant it was possible for her. She watched it coming down, cocaine in her tears as she wept quietly in a dark Orlando theatre.
I think you know, but that was Renee...