Kind of early on, Joaquin let me know that actually his shoulder — I think from birth, he has kind of a messy shoulder. And he’s probably spent a lot of time trying to hide it or stand up straight so that he can twist his body around. He said, ‘Do you think it’d be alright if I do this?’ And I said, ‘Sure, great.’
But a couple days into the film, he was feeling more comfortable and just kept sliding into this skin that he was doing — these movements that were so incredible. I just didn’t want to jinx anything and say, ‘What are you doing?’ or ‘What’s going on?’ You’re in the middle of make-believe – you don’t want to break the spell. You just want to watch him do whatever he’s doing.
I have my own theories about it, because [Phoenix’s character] puts his hands on his hips – sort of stuff about his kidneys being torn up from the war. Maybe something happened. Maybe it’s just easier. Maybe it’s comfortable for him to reach back and hold his kidneys and help him stand. But then again, yeah, there’s always that thing — the way someone holds himself is an extension of what’s going with them on the inside. And I buy that too, for sure.