Mike Mills on the set of “C’mon C’mon” and the casting of Joaquin Phoenix

It was a big swing for writer/director Mike Mills to cast Joaquin Phoenix in his gorgeous drama “C’mon C’mon,” something he never expected to take on. “I think Joaquin is an incredibly smart, multi-layered person who will always be surprising,” Mills says. “So if that role sounds surprising, then yeah, sign me up. He’s not going to do the Joker twice in a row.

In this edition of the Variety Awards Circuit podcast, we speak with the Oscar-nominated writer and director of A24’s black-and-white comedy-drama “C’mon C’mon.” He talks about filming his movie during Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar run for “Joker,” as well as the gorgeous additions of his Emmy-nominated co-stars Gaby Hoffman and newcomer Woody Norman. Additionally, in this episode, the Awards Circuit panel discusses when Oscar voting is open and the current status of the Oscar race. Listen below:

“C’mon C’mon” tells the story of Johnny (Phoenix), a radio journalist who embarks on a cross-country journey with his zealous and energetic nephew Jesse (played by newcomer Woody Norman) to help his sister Viv (Gaby Hoffman). In the process, the two learn about life, love, and coming to terms with the demons we bury deep within.

Mills earned a surprise Oscar nomination for “20th Century Women,” which followed “Beginners,” a film that earned the late Christopher Plummer an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. It builds one of the best storylines of the past decade and executes a picturesque black and white depiction of how we communicate with each other in the world.

There is a Hollywood and famous character of the Oscar-winning actor, who many consider to be one of the greatest actors of his generation. But Mills wasn’t trying to entertain this “idea” of Phoenix, and he found a connection to his soul. “I was trying to talk to this person and no one else,” Mills says. “This person is gentle and human on planet Earth.”

It’s only been two years since Phoenix won the Oscar for his menacing turn in Todd Phillips’ “Joker.” He entered this ceremony with three previous nominations: “Gladiator” (2000), “Walk the Line” (2005) and “The Master” (2012). “C’mon C’mon” is now comfortably near the top of his fantasy filmography. While the Best Actor Oscar race is teeming with talent, his work deserves notice.

Norman is one of the most fabulous finds, and it’s not easy not to be won over by its whimsical deliveries and emotional beats. One of the great finds of British talent since Freddie Highmore (“Finding Neverland”), he is a real comedian, well beyond his years.

The Variety’s Awards Circuit podcast is hosted by Clayton Davis, Michael Schneider, Jazz Tangcay and Jenelle Riley and is your one-stop listener for lively conversations about the best in cinema. Michael Schneider is producing and Drew Griffith is editing. Each week, “Awards Circuit” features interviews with top talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards races and industry headlines; And much more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you download podcasts. New episodes are released every week.

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