Phoenix Returns for Charity

Cara Petitti

It has been nearly a year since actor Joaquin Phoenix appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman sporting an unkempt beard and sunglasses in addition to displaying unusual behavior. Phoenix, who starred as the music legend Johnny Cash in the 2005 film Walk the Line, produced an enormous reaction from fans after his strange interview with Letterman in February 2009. The actor muttered and spoke in a slightly inconsistent manner before revealing that he intended to quit acting to become a rapper. This appearance was followed by several others, where Phoenix spoke and acted the same, disappointing many of his fans who began to speculate that the then 34-year-old actor had suffered a mental breakdown or was under the influence of drugs. Some believed that the strange antics were meant as a publicity stunt.

HOLLYWOOD - NOVEMBER 01: Actor Joaquin Phoenix of "Two Lovers" arrives at the 2008 AFI Fest held at The Grauman's Chinese Theatre on November 1, 2008 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for AFI)

However, after stepping out of the limelight for the past six months, Joaquin Phoenix has reappeared free of that infamous scraggly beard in an online video advertisement for the nonprofit organization To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA). Joining him in this important public service announcement are Miley Cyrus and Phoenix’s ex girlfriend, actress Liv Tyler. The video begins with Phoenix poking fun at himself and his belligerent antics as he speaks with the founder of TWLOHA, Jamie Tworkowski. The two explain that the purpose of the organization is to help people struggling with depression, thoughts of suicide, and even addiction. Self injury is another problem that the charity focuses on, which can often include the growing trend among teenagers known as “cutting”, as well as other fatal methods of inflicting pain on oneself. Following Tworkowski’s serious message about helping those who do deal with these issues daily, the video then turns into a bit of a comedic skit to encourage people to help the charity gain funding for its work. With the help of Miley Cyrus, Phoenix and Tyler are further educated on how to log onto the social networking site Facebook to vote for TWLOHA in a recent online contest sponsored by Chase Bank. The contest set a goal for each charity involved to acquire the most votes possible from their supporters around the world. The organization with the most votes would receive one million dollars towards their cause from Chase Bank.

While it was announced that another non-profit organization called Invisible Children was the winner on Jan. 25, TWLOHA was given $100,000 dollars for third place. Tworkowski stated on the organization’s website that Phoenix’s resurfacing in the promotional advertisement definitely sparked enormous public interest. Whether his original bizarre appearances were meant as publicity stunts or not, the press surrounding Joaquin Phoenix’s current project with To Write Love On Her Arms has created a very positive result for the mental health charity.