Norman: I really liked Jesse. I's a very deep role. It's very challenging because it's a very complex character. There's a lot of layers in Jesse and it was very fun to get into that. Jesse is extremely different than me. He's this very introverted, very kind of quirky, strange kid. And I'm quite extroverted.
Q: Joaquin, what drew you into the project? On the face of it, a film about a middle-aged man who bonds with his nephew could potentially seem cloying.
Phoenix: That was a danger that Mike and I were aware of from the very beginning. Trying to ensure that something was genuine and authentic and there wasn't any artifice — in a medium that's oftentimes blanketed in artifice — that's what was exciting about it.
What I hadn't really anticipated was that I would have this great barometer of what was authentic sitting in front of me every day in Woody and how he inhabited this world and that character. This is not Woody in the film. He was hyperaware of the complexities of the character he was playing. And yet it always felt genuine.
Q: Woody, had you ever seen any of Joaquin's movies before?
Phoenix: Now remember, Woody, often journalists will make you feel you have to answer questions. You don't have to answer — particularly any question about me. You can say, "I don't remember." But don't tell them what a d— I am, OK?
Norman: [laughs] OK. I don't know if I did watch any of his movies. I might have and I just can't remember. But I definitely knew who he was and I respected him a lot.
Phoenix: That's ridiculous. You did not respect me. You told me all the time, "Listen, I have to be honest, people talk well of you but I think you're a f— fool. Keep your opinions to yourself." You did, dude! And you cursed a lot. I probably shouldn't say that to the press but you have a very dirty mouth.
Q: Well, Woody, I will tell you that Mike said you were actually the most mature person on the set.
Norman: I mean, just a minute ago I was laughing at fart jokes so I don't know if that's true.