Phoenix unexpectedly announced in late 2008 that he had retired from acting to pursue a career in rap music, and that the forthcoming Two Lovers would be his last film. On February 11, 2009, he appeared on Late Show to promote Two Lovers. He seemed incoherent and was mostly unresponsive to host David Letterman's questions about the film and his career plans. Phoenix appeared on Late Show again on September 22, 2010, revealing that his "retirement" and eccentric behavior were for his role in a mockumentary called I'm Still Here.
Phoenix made his third collaboration with director James Gray in the film Two Lovers (2008), where he played a bachelor torn between the family friend his parents wish he would marry and his beautiful but volatile new neighbor. Two Lovers premiered in competition at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival in May, receiving largely positive reviews, especially Phoenix who was praised by film critics David Edelstein who wrote "He [Phoenix] is, once again, stupendous, and stupendous in a way he has never been before" and Roger Ebert describing his performance as "perfect pitch". Two Lovers grossed $16 million worldwide.More Info
On January 26, 2006, while driving down a winding canyon road in Hollywood, Phoenix veered off the road and flipped his car. The crash was reportedly caused by brake failure. Shaken and confused, he heard someone tapping on his window and telling him to "just relax". Unable to see the man, Phoenix replied, "I'm fine. I am relaxed." The man replied, "No, you're not." The man then stopped Phoenix from lighting a cigarette while gasoline was leaking into the car cabin. Phoenix realized that the man was German filmmaker Werner Herzog. While Herzog helped Phoenix out of the wreckage by breaking the back window of the car, bystanders called an ambulance. Phoenix approached Herzog to express his gratitude, but Herzog downplayed his actions and returned to his home nearby.More Info
In 2014, Phoenix reunited with Paul Thomas Anderson for the crime comedy-drama film Inherent Vice, the first adaptation of a Thomas Pynchon book. Phoenix played Doc Sportello, a private investigator and hippie/dope head trying to help his ex-girlfriend solve a crime. Inherent Vice premiered as the centerpiece at the New York Film Festival on October 4, 2014 and went nationwide on January 9, 2015. It was met with mostly positive reviews with many critics praising the film for its acting performances, while some were frustrated by its complicated plot, however it only grossed $11.1 million at the box office. Phoenix was nominated for his fifth Golden Globe Award for his performance.More Info
Phoenix also starred in M. Night Shyamalan's science fiction thriller Signs (2002). Phoenix plays Merrill Hess, a former Minor League baseball player who, along with his older brother Graham (Mel Gibson), discovers that Earth has been invaded by extraterrestrials. The film was a massive financial success, grossing $408 million on its $72 million budget, and was received with positive reviews. Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers praised Phoenix's performance, writing "Phoenix registers impressively, finding the humor and the pain in this lost boy".More Info
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