Filmmaker James Gray pinned all hope of getting his new film TWO LOVERS a big-screen release on Joaquin Phoenix - because if the retiring actor had turned down the main part, the movie would never have been made.
The director, who has previously worked with Phoenix on 2000's The Yards and 2007's We Own The Night, penned the project's lead role with his close pal in mind.
And Gray is grateful to the Walk The Line star for choosing to take on the role - the last film Phoenix made before announcing his plans to quit Hollywood for good - because his performance reminds the filmmaker of late movie star Edward Montgomery Clift.
In a MovieMaker Magazine article paying tribute to the Oscar nominee, Gray writes, "I wrote Two Lovers knowing that if Joaquin didnt want to do it it would never get made. The role was created for him: A tormented soul, struggling, lost, lonely and, finally, beautiful and heartbreaking. Who else could do it? Who else would?
"Thankfully for me, he said yes, and the shoot was the happiest of the three (movies we made). ...He was liberated. The result is work that seems to my eyes eerily redolent of Montgomery Clift at his best."