‘My middle name is research,’ says the man '

whose siblings are called

Rain, Liberty and Summer

Flight of the Phoenix

A major star thanks to Gladiator and Quills, JOAQUIN PHOENIX now takes his first leading role in one of the coolest films Of the year. Words: Catherine Bromley/Bruno Lester

ince his Oscar-nominated performance in

Gladiator. the 27-year-old brother of River Phoenix

has earned a reputation for being a genuine eccentric. Last year he did a few L'S talk shows where he rambled incoherently. Joaquin (pronounced Wack-een) Rafael. known as Joaq to his friends. has also been described as unpredictable. edgy and difficult to interview.

Understandably. he is neither fond of talking about his late brother. who died of a drug overdose in front of him outside the Viper Club in Hollywood in 1993 (Phoenix made an anguished emergency call that was broadcast by the news media). nor is he keen on discussing his hippie parents. John Bottom and Arlyn Dunetz. who joined the Children of God cult. then created a family of actors and chain-smoking vegans (Rain. 27. Liberty. 23. and Summer. 22).

But today Phoenix is eager and cheerful. We're here to talk about Buffalo .S'oldiers. the black comedy in which he plays a US soldier selling drugs among the troops stationed in Germany. Coming on like a modern day MM and with a soundtrack by David Holmes (see panel). Haj]an Soldiers is destined to be one of the coolest films of the year. Dressed in jeans. sneakers and a green sweater that brings out the green in his eyes. the Puerto Rican-born actor has a cigarette stuck behind his ear. Politely he refrains from smoking throughout the interview. although the nicotine withdrawal makes him a bit edgy and nervous.

56 THE LIST FESTIVAL GUIDE 1)? Am; 4'; 80;; 1/31)?

You have an image of being an unpredictable interviewee.

I can function in any environment except press rooms. You have a really great session and then one that is miserable.

Is it hard for you to talk about your work?

Yes. because I've done other movies since Buffalo Soldiers. and it’s strange to talk about work that's in the past. to talk about it as if you just walked off the set.

Why did you seem so dazed and confused on the talk shows last year?

I thought it would be funny to act that way. but it backfired. I guess I shouldjust stick with movies.

How would you describe the soldier you play in ‘I’m Buffan Soldiers? vom n He‘sjust a total shit. but not out of malice. He‘sjust selfish. l 9 love that he has ruined and saved lives throughout the course of the storv. all kind of unintentionally.

[Based on a 1993 novel by Robert ()‘Connor. Buffalo I

Soldiers is a fictitious account of [TS troops stationed in the former West (iermany in I989. There. the soldiers experimented with drugs to kill the boredom. even shooting

start shooting a

heroin while driving tanks on manoeuvresl new ' I Do you really think it was that bad? mOVIe