He may have been off on whatever he's been off on for some time now, and did declare his retirement from acting, but as the title of Casey Affleck's bamboozling documentary I'm Still Here attests, Joaquin Phoenix is still here. And he's still taking meetings for acting jobs.
According to the Hollywood reporter, Phoenix is firmly attached to the next project from Steven Shainberg, who made Secretary with James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal in 2002. Big Shoe would see Phoenix play "a foot and shoe fetishist who is also an amazing footwear designer", in a comedy drama described as "out there but cool".
It's an indie affair with no financing in place yet, so it may never happen. But Phoenix a) returning to proper acting and b) taking weird James Spader-type roles, are Things We Would Like To See.
Apparently Phoenix has also taken meetings, although they came to nothing, about Poe thriller The Raven, Sean Penn's Thomas Wolfe biopic Genius, and the Jonah Hill comedy The Sitter.
Sources in the "Phoenix Camp" speculate that he may be waiting to see how I'm Still Here performs before re-launching his thesp career. The doc is out today in the States.