After setting off a firestorm when he dismissed the Oscars as "the stupidest thing in the whole world," Joaquin Phoenix is backtracking big time.
The star of "The Master" was a frontrunner for Best Actor until his all-too revealing chat last month with Elvis Mitchell for Interview magazine. Asked then about his views on the Oscars, the two-time nominee said: "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."
He changed his tune this week, telling Aussie journo Garry Maddox (The Age): "I know that first of all, I wouldn't have the career that I have if it weren't for the Oscars. I haven't been in a lot of movies that have made a lot of money … And getting nominated for a movie has probably helped my career tremendously.
''I guess I sound like a dick," he conceded. ''You know what it's like? You sit and you bullshit for a couple of hours. You just miss so much of what someone says when it's written down …. Come on, man, you know that it's more complex than that. It's not like I f---ing hate the Oscars … It doesn't occupy my time to where I can build up hate.
''What I was reacting to was sometimes the reverence that we have about these things. I don't want to revere it.''
Does he care that his bout of Oscar bashing may have cost him a Best Actor nomination?
''I didn't even know that I was in a position to do something that would cost me something,'' he said.
Recently, he performed a similar mea culpa at "The Master's" press conference for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. He told Golden Globe voters that he'd been quoted out of context and that what he really meant was merely that he eschewed competition between actors. "He appeared very humble," a witness tells Gold Derby.
Apparently, the Weinstein Company is so concerned that Phoenix may have committed Oscar suicide that it just boosted "Django Unchained" player Christoph Waltz to the lead category from supporting. The studio had done Phoenix a favor by dropping his co-star Philip Seymour Hoffman down into the supporting race, despite the two men sharing the Best Actor award from the Venice filmfest.
Phoenix is still likely to reap a bid for his performance as a lost soul who falls under the spell of a religious zealot (Hoffman) in Paul Thomas Anderson's powerful new picture. However, his odds of winning have dropped dramatically, from 14/5 to 4/1.
Prior to his damning comments, Phoenix had seven Experts backing him for the win; now, he has the support of only three of our Oscarologists.
Twenty of our 26 pro pundits predict Daniel Day Lewis to win his third Best Actor Oscar for his work in "Lincoln." He is the overwhelming favorite among our Experts, Editors and Users with odds of 13 to 8.