Phoenix's Letterman appearance turns weird

NEW YORK - Joaquin Phoenix's interview with David Letterman started off odd and ended in full-blown weirdness, leaving him destined to join Farrah Fawcett on the list of late-night guests memorable for the wrong reasons.

The actor appeared to forget the name of his 'Two Lovers' co-star, Gwyneth Paltrow, stuck gum under the edge of Letterman's 'Late Show' desk and appeared to curse at bandleader Paul Shaffer for laughing at him during Wednesday night's show.

Clips of the sunglass-wearing Phoenix's appearance were racing around the Internet on Thursday.

'I'm sorry you couldn't be here tonight,' Letterman said after his interview, punctuated by intervals of uncomfortable silence from both.

Phoenix, a two-time Academy Award nominee, now sports a long, black beard and announced last October that he was quitting acting to concentrate on a career as a hip-hop musician. He has said that 'Two Lovers,' a romantic drama, is his last movie. It's such an odd career switch that some are wondering if it's all an act, particularly since Casey Affleck was following Phoenix with a camera to film him at the 'Late Show.'

Letterman drew immediate attention to Phoenix's appearance when the actor sat down for his interview.

'I will just say right off the top here, you look different than I remember you,' the talk show host said. When he asked, 'How is the beard?' and the audience laughed, Phoenix mumbled something about being made to feel weird about his appearance.

Phoenix appeared on the show to promote his movie. Letterman asked about Paltrow and momentarily forgot her name. Phoenix couldn't, or wouldn't, help him. Following a few seconds of uncomfortable silence, Letterman said, 'Can you tell us about your days with the Unabomber?'

They talked about Phoenix's decision to quit acting. When Letterman asked why, Phoenix replied, 'I don't know.'

And when Letterman noted that the actor was chewing gum during his interview, Phoenix took the wad from his mouth and stuck it under the lip of Letterman's desk.

The general weirdness made Letterman recall Farrah Fawcett's memorably spacey appearance in 1997. 'We owe an apology to Farrah Fawcett,' Letterman said.