“The highly sensitive tend to be philosophical or spiritual in their orientation, rather than materialistic or hedonistic. They dislike small talk. They often describe themselves as creative or intuitive. They dream vividly, and can often recall their dreams the next day. They love music, nature, art, physical beauty. They feel exceptionally strong emotions—sometimes acute bouts of joy, but also sorrow, melancholy, and fear. Highly sensitive people also process information about their environments—both physical and emotional—unusually deeply. They tend to notice subtleties that others miss—another person’s shift in mood, say, or a lightbulb burning a touch too brightly.”
“He wanted all to lie in an ecstasy of peace; I wanted all to sparkle and dance in a glorious jubilee. I said his heaven would be only half alive; and he said mine would be drunk: I said I should fall asleep in his; and he said he could not breathe in mine.”
Anderson admits that there were times when he didn’t really write much for Phoenix to do, but that wouldn’t stop him from creating something original.
“It’s like giving away a bit of a magic trick,” said Anderson, speaking by phone from Paris, between his promotional duties for the film in Venice and Toronto. “I would hate to expose something, but I’d be lying if I said he wasn’t incredibly methodical and thoughtful about what he was doing but probably only in service of being able to then be completely unpredictable.”
While the two never discussed at length what Freddie should look like, it quickly became clear to Anderson that Phoenix was losing a significant amount of weight to play this alcoholic fresh from the war. Phoenix also maintained an awkward gait, where he pulled his pelvis back, sucked in his stomach and placed his hands on his waist — a walk Anderson loved but never questioned.
“It’s like when you are playing make-believe with your kids and you are so tempted to ask them what they are thinking or why they are doing something but the last thing you want to do is break the spell,” said Anderson, who realized in the editing room that Phoenix was perhaps holding onto his kidneys because they hurt from either a war injury or from all the booze. “You just sort of hope they will keep doing it and they won’t stop. Whatever he was doing, it felt so right and looked so good, the last thing I wanted to do was stop and break the spell of make-believe and ask questions of why.”