That's showbiz for ya.
When asked by Jay Leno whether he got any calls from concerned parties when it appeared as if Joaquin Phoenix was really throwing his life away, Casey Affleck paused for a second and replied, "Ya know, I never did."
"Afterward, the movie comes out, the critics liked to say, 'This is crazy, this is disturbing, this is sick and we should be worried about him,'" Affleck continued, "but while it was happening, people were happy just to mock him."
Affleck is referring, of course, to the largely negative critical response to I'm Still Here, the performance-piece-posing-as-documentary he directed featuring Phoenix as a coke-snorting, hooker-utilizing, career-blowing version of himself.
And, initially, the guys wanted us to think they were serious.
"I wanted them to think it was real while they were watching it," Affleck admitted. "But I assumed, when it was over, they would understand that it wasn't real."
"We just wanted to make a movie that would help people kind of suspend their disbelief. They could go to the theater; they could experience it—sort of wonder whether it was real or not," he said.
But he still objects to the term "hoax."
"It's not a documentary, because all the people in the movie are acting ... A social experiment, if you want to call it that," he suggested. "I would call it a, uh, movie."
The heat gets turned up tenfold tomorrow, however, when Phoenix pays a visit to "The Late Show With David Letterman" for the first time since his very bizarre beard-to-face with Dave in February 2009.
We assume some comeuppance is on the schedule.