"Last Thursday in Los Angeles, a crowd of low-key Hollywood types — actors, producers, Moby — crowded into the Taschen Gallery for a party to celebrate the new film “You Were Never Really Here.”
Meanwhile, the movie’s star lurked outside, utterly unnoticed. When he finally came in, sporting a grizzled beard and silver-tinged man bun, Joaquin Phoenix retreated to a shadowy corner with actor pal John C. Reilly and two other scruffy dudes.
“He’s really outside his comfort zone tonight,” observed a longtime Phoenix friend. “And his comfort zone doesn’t go too far to begin with.”
In fact, when Phoenix, 43, was named best actor for the thriller at Cannes, he leaned over to actress girlfriend Rooney Mara to ask her what had just happened. Stumbling to the stage, he looked more traumatized than triumphant, barely managing to stammer out a few self-deprecating words.
"Phoenix eschews LA’s favored lifestyle: he reportedly doesn’t hike, go to the beach or hit major restaurants — preferring a strict vegan diet of vegetables from his own garden.
“His circle of friends is as tight as he can keep it,” adds the friend. “Not a lot of people are going to get him . . . [and] he’s good with that.”
Sources point out that Phoenix became more of a recluse after a stint in alcohol rehab in 2005. And he’s found the perfect introvert partner. After only a few relationships, including a romance with Liv Tyler in the ’90s and seeing a 19-year-old DJ when he was 39, Phoenix is now with wallflower Mara, 32.
“They’re meant for each other,” said the friend. “Both [are] shy homebodies, both loathe press.” When the two have ventured out, they’ve been spotted at vegan restaurants and a colonics spa.
“God forbid he gets an Oscar this year,” said a publicity exec who has worked with Phoenix. “He may not make it to the stage. Everyone wonders, ‘Is he really that sensitive — or does he just want you to think he’s weird?’ You’ll always be confused about him. Which actually is kind of weird.”"