There is now a transcript for this episode, thanks to a listener called Krissy. Thanks Krissy! See below for the transcript. You can use it to read every word which you can hear in this podcast episode. There may be some errors in the script. If you find any, please give corrections by adding a comment under this episode.
Joaquin Phoenix is a famous Hollywood A List actor. He appeared in Gladiator and Walk The Line (the Johnny Cash story). Recently he announced that he wants to quit acting to become a rapper. Also, his appearance has become very strange! He looks more like a homeless person than a Hollywood star. His decision has become a Hollywood mystery. Is it real, or is it a joke? No one really knows.
In this episode of the podcast, Luke talks about Joaquin Phoenix with his friend and colleague Howard. You can listen to the conversation – some of the vocabulary is defined below. The language section of the podcast is about making speculations with modal verbs. See below for more information. Also, below you will see some pictures of Joaquin Phoenix, and some YouTube videos – one of him announcing his retirement from acting, and one of him rapping (badly) and then falling off the stage! For more strange Joaquin Phoenix videos, have a look on YouTube. We can’t wait to find out if it is real, or if it is all a big joke. We really hope that it is a joke, because if it isn’t, he could be in real trouble…
Some vocabulary that Luke & Howard used in their conversation + definitions:
Howard: “He’s from a famous acting dynasty” – a dynasty means a large and powerful family
Howard: “He looks like a homeless, or a tramp or something” – ‘homeless’ and ‘tramp’ both mean someone who doesn’t have a home and has to live on the street. ‘homeless’ is also an adjective
Luke: “He’s making a fly-on-the-wall documentary” – a fly-on-the-wall documentary is a documentary film or programme which is filmed to look like the people in the film are not really aware of the cameras, so they act naturally and it is like the viewer is a ‘fly on the wall’ just watching what is happening. This is not a reality show like Big Brother. It’s a type of documentary.
Luke: “A comedy movie a bit like Borat” – Borat is a satirical comedy about a man called Borat, played by Sacha Baron Cohen
Luke: “The thing about rapping is that you have to have a flow” – a rapper’s ‘flow’ is his rhythmical style of rapping. E.g. Eminem has a fast flow. Joaquin Phoenix’s flow is slow, and elementary.
Howard: “He looks like a twat” – a twat is a slightly rude word which means ‘an idiot’
Luke: “He’s let himself go” – to ‘let yourself go’ means you stop looking after yourself and your appearance goes bad, e.g. you gain wait, your hair grows too long, etc.
Luke: “It sounds like he’s slurring his words” – to ‘slur’ your words means that you don’t pronounce your words properly, like when you are drunk.
Luke: “He’s famous for a method approach to acting” – a method approach is an acting style which involves the actor totally becoming the character he is performing. The actor lives as that character all the time, even at home. Famous method actors are Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino. DeNiro famously put on a lot of weight to become Jake LaMotta in the film Raging Bull (an excellent film!)
Howard: “His family are very eccentric” – ‘eccentric’ means slightly crazy, odd, weird, bizarre, strange
Howard: “A lot of craziness” – craziness is the noun from ‘crazy’
Howard: “A lot of weird and wacky things happening” -wacky is another word for crazy, bizarre, weird, odd, etc
Luke: “I’m a bit sceptical” – ‘I’m sceptical’ means ‘I don’t really believe it is true’
Luke: “Someone in the crowd was heckling him” – to heckle someone means to shout criticisms from the crowd. Comedians are often heckled, by hecklers during stand-up comedy routines – e.g. “That’s not funny!!”
Luke: “It’s a piss take” – a ‘piss take’ is a joke. designed to fool everyone, to make fun of everyone.
Howard: “It sounds like he’s on the edge” – on the edge means ‘close to being crazy’ or ‘close to a nervous breakdown’
Luke: “I’m leaning towards ‘it’s all a joke'” – to be leaning towards something means that you are starting to take that opinion. You are favouring that opinion.
Howard: “I think it might be for real” – ‘for real’ means genuine, not fake.
Luke: “Finally, he’s cracked” – he’s ‘cracked’ means he’s ‘lost his mind’
Summary of Language Section – Modal Verbs:
Use might, must, could or can’t to speculate about things.
1. For present or future use modal + infinitive (without to)
e.g. He may have an emotional problem
or modal + be + -ing for the continuous form
e.g. He may be having emotional problems
2. For speculations about the past, use modal + have + past participle
e.g. He may have got tired of Hollywood
3. Use ‘must’ when you’re sure that something is true
e.g. It must be a joke! (or It has to be a joke!)
4. Use ‘may’ ‘might’ or ‘could’ when you’re less sure that something is true.
e.g. He might be serious, but I’m not sure to be honest.
5. Use ‘can’t’ when you’re sure that something isn’t true or didn’t happen.
e.g. He can’t be for real
e.g. He can’t have given up acting.
Episode 4 – Joaquin Phoenix
You are listening to Luke’s English podcast. For more information visit teacherLuke.wordpress.com.
Hello there and welcome to podcast number 4. This is Luke, of course. It’s Luke’s English podcast, right? So obviously it’s Luke.
What a surprise! I am just sitting here in my living room. It’s a Thursday evening. I’ve been just chilling out this evening, relaxing, watching DVDs and drinking tea. I have had about 4 cups of tea tonight. I love tea. I’m completely addicted to it. Love it. I don’t drink very much coffee, actually because I find if I drink too much coffee I can’t sleep at night. Sometimes I drink coffee in the morning but if I drink coffee in the afternoon, I can’t sleep at night. But tea is fine. I can drink as much tea as I like and I am totally okay. So I am a complete tea lover, addicted to the stuff.
Anyway, on this podcast first, in the first section I am going to talk about some of the comments that I have had from people who have contacted me recently in the feature.
In part 2 I am going to be talking to my friend and colleague Howard and we are going to be talking about a Hollywood actor whose name is Joaquin Phoenix. Now Joaquin Phoenix is a very popular, very famous Hollywood actor who recently has had quite a big career change which is quite mysterious and interesting and I am very interested in it at the moment, so I thought it might be interesting for you to hear us talking about it as well and I am also interested in your comments on the situation.
In part 3 we are going to be looking at modal verbs of speculation.
You know modal verbs, they are words like might and can and can’t and could and they are very useful verbs. Native speakers use them all the time. I don’t hear students of English using them enough and they are very useful for giving your opinion on something or for getting a situation or speculating about a situation and you can definitely use them to talk about the whole wagging Phoenix thing that I am going to be talking about with Howard in part 2.
So you have to wait until the language section in part 3 to hear about that.
Now, I’ve had a few comments about the podcasts. I have had some comments saying that the podcasts look very professional and sound very professional. So thanks very much for those positive comments. The picture that I use, the logo for the podcast was designed by my brother. He is a graphic designer and he used my computer to design that logo and the logo itself is based on a London street sign. So if you come to London and you look at the street signs, they look like that. They’ve got the same design and my particular logo is based on the street sign for – I think it’s Baker Street, yeah, it’s Baker Street. You can see in the top right hand corner of my logo there is a silhouette. A silhouette is a kind of black outline of somebody’s face, okay? So you can see that my silhouette in the top right hand corner and that’s there because on the Baker Street sign there is a silhouette of Shirlock Holmes. That’s because Sherlock Holmes in the Sherlock Holmes’ stories lived at 221B Baker Street. So Baker Street is famous for Sherlock Holmes. So if you see the Baker Street sign in London you can see that there is a Sherlock Holmes silhouette on it.
So okay, thanks for the episodes – no not episodes – thanks for the comments about my podcast episodes. Thanks for saying that they are very professional looking. That’s very nice.
Now then, I have also had a couple of comments from people saying that they would like me to provide a tapescript for the episodes. So a tapescript means that you can actually read what I am saying while I am saying it. Now, I have to say that this will be quite hard for me to do because I will have to type everything. So that’s everything that I am saying, I will have to type. And because most of the speaking that I do on the podcasts is unscripted. I don’t write it first. I don’t plan it first. I just speak – so make it sound natural. So because it’s unscripted, it’s very difficult for me to write it all down and type it. So remember that I do this podcast in my free time and I also have a full-time job. I put all my energy into my full-time job, so I am very busy doing that. But I will try to write tapescripts for the episodes. I will do some work on that. So hopefully before long, you will be able to read a tapescript while you listen to the podcast. So remember to check my website page which is teacherLuke.podamatic.com. and in the future you should be able to read tapescripts for the older episodes, okay?
Last time I asked you a question about skateboarding. And that’s because I am planning to interview my brother about it in the near future. Now, I haven’t spoken to my brother about skateboarding yet, I haven’t seen him recently. So I will deal with the scateboarding thing later on. In this episode I am going to talk to my friend and colleague Howard about an interesting celebrity story.
That’s coming up next. Just one more comment: I like to say hello to Rosa and all her students at her school. Rosa is a teacher, an English teacher in Spain and she has been downloading my podcast and playing it to her students. So I like to say a big hello and a warm welcome to Rosa and all her students. Feel free to send me a message and get back to me and I will say hello to you again in the future. So thanks very much for downloading the podcast.
Now, let’s move on to part 2.
Okay, so Joaquin Phoenix. Joaquin Phoenix is a very famous, a very successful Hollywood actor. He has starred in movies like Gladiator and Walk The Line. Walk the line is the Johnny Cash movie. A movie about the country music star Johnny Cash and recently he was in a film with Gwyneth Paltrow called ‘Two Lovers.’ He’s been nominated for an Acadamy Award, that’s an Oscar twice. He has never won an Oscar but he has been nominated twice. He is a really great actor. He comes from a family of actors including his older brother who was called River Phoenix. River Phoenix is quite famous because he died in the ninety nineties from a drugs overdose, which was a very sad story. But Joaquin Phoenix has had a very successful acting career so far until recently, because recently he made an announcement to the media. Now if you look at the video clip that I have added to my website – remember that teacherLuke.podamatic.com, you can actually see the announcement that he has made. Okay, so you can watch it there. But basically what he has said is – that he is going to quit acting. So he is going to give up acting because he wants to follow his musical career. So he is going to stop acting and he is going to become a rapper – which is quite a surprise and quite a shock. Now, a lot of people seem to think that this might be a joke. People aren’t really taking him seriously. So for example if you look at the video of the website, you’ll see the interviewer who speaks to him thinks he is joking, but Joaquin says he is not joking. He is serious. He is going to give up acting and he is gonna to become a rapper. Now obviously everyone is very surprised about this and also disappointed because everyone thinks that he is a great actor and they don’t want him to quit. They want him to keep acting.
Now, I’ve spoken to my friend Howard about this. So let’s hear what we talked about. Now there maybe some language that you don’t understand in this section, remember that in the language section in part 3, I am going to teach you some useful expressions that we – that you can use to talk about a subject like this, and I will introduce some of the expressions that you hear in my conversation with Howard.
Anyway, here is the conversation.
Luke: Okay, so I got Howard with me now and we are gonna talk about the whole Joaquin Phoenix thing. So what do you know about him, so basically what do you think?
Howard: Well, Joaquin Phoenix I know, what do I know about him? I know he was a love gladiator, isn’t one of my favourite films, a great actor. He is from a very famous acting dynasty and I read – I saw something about him in the newspaper the other day
Luke: That’s right. We just listened to his announcement and he said he is retiring from acting and I mean, did you see a picture of him in the paper?
Howard: Yeah he’s got like a big beard and like some sunlight- he looks like a homeless, or like a tramp or something.
Luke: Yeah, that’s right. He does. Well, I mean some people think that it is real and that he’s really given up acting. A lot of people think it’s some sort of joke like – it might be maybe him preparing for some movie role or it could be that he is just making some kind of – like a joke movie, which he is gonna get released in a year or so. No one really knows what’s going on, so it’s a sort of a mystery at the moment. I’ve got some information about various things that he has done and various things that will happen. So let’s look at the information and then you can start of tell me whether you think it’s real or not, okay?
So first of all his brother-in-law Casey Affleck, it’s Ben Affleck’s brother – Casey Affleck is doing a fly-on-the-wall documentary movie about him and he is following Joaquin Phoenix everywhere he goes with a film crew and he is filming everything he does and apparently he is making a documentary about – they say the documentaries about his change from being an actor into being a rapper. But what do you think? Do you think that makes the thing real?
Howard: Yeah, I mean – I think they will make a really good documentary, watching someone going from being an actor – someone so famous – to saying they make a music but at the same time it makes me think, you know – if you are someone’s brother-in-law watching him go crazy is that a good thing to film? I don’t know.
Luke: I mean, you would have thought if it was his brother-in-law he’d care more about him.
Howard : Yeah
Luke: And if he was just like making a video about how he is kind of going crazy, going mad, that he would try to stop him going mad or look after him. So I don’t know, sometimes I think that that means – it’s a joke. Like it’s not really a documentary about him becoming a rap star but more like a documentary – well, not a documentary- just a joke like a kind of comedy movie. A bit like Borat.
Howard: Yeah, I think so. I am not sure. I am not sure.
Luke: Okay, well let’s look. The next bit of information I’ve got is that recently he was doing a rap performance. Now, you know he is becoming a rapper, right? Recently he was doing a rap performance and he seemed to be like a bit drunk or something and he was really over-excited and as well as that he actually fell off the stage. There is a youtube video that…. Have you seen?
Howard: Yeah, I saw. I saw a quick part of it the other day and it was crazy. He was standing there, where he was rapping – for about a minute and then yeah, he just fell in the crowd and everyone went wild, I couldn’t believe it.
Luke: I mean, what did you think of his rapping? Did you hear anything?
Howard: No, it’s awful. I mean it was really, it was ..You couldn’t really hear him over the crowd, but it was awful. Really it was terrible.
Luke: It’s kind of like a real basic style of rapping. I will post a clip of him falling off the stage on the website, so you can find that if you go to my website. So his rapping is gonna like really bad.
Howard: Yeah we all like rap and I think….you know I like some…some rappers, but you know he was awfull, really. It was terrible.
Luke: The thing about rapping is that you need to have a flow, right. So the good rappers like …
Howard: who is your favour?
Luke: Well, I don’t know. Someone like Eminem.
Howard: Ah, okay
Luke: You know like the way he raps – the rhythm of his voice is kind of ..
Howard: You love Fifty-seven?
Luke: Yeah, he is alright, yeah. I am not that keen on the gangster rap thing, but anyway.
Howard: So what John does that he failed then?.
Luke: Well, that I don’t really know. It’s kind of like underground.
Howard: Is not gangster, is he?
Luke: No, it’s more like underground hip hop sort of thing. But anyway, his rapping is like nenenenenenenee, nenenenenenee, right?
Howard: Really, basically he looks like a twat, doesn’t he?
Luke: Yeah, and he looks really stupid when he is dancing. So, it’s almost like a comedy performance, I think. Anyway, the next thing is that he’s totally let himself go.
Howard: Oh, yeah
Luke: I mean the way he looks.
Howard: He looks like a beggar that you see on the street.
Luke: Yeah, he does
Howard: And he has got really greasy hair, you know. Massive long beard. I mean he looks like he has not a bath for a year.
Howard: He looks like he smells.
Luke: Yeah, and it’s kind of like …It has to be a joke, I mean if you look at pictures of him. He just looks so ridiculous ….
Luke: . When I see him I just laugh. Like everyone…you know
Howard: Maybe he really has, you know, maybe does his new image.
Luke: maybe it’s just…
Howard: He is trying to give that kind of unshaven cool image
Howard: underground kind of image, trying to change himself.
Luke: Is trying to escape from his old image. In interviews it sounds like he is slurring his words.
Howard: I saw him on …what was that show called?
Howard: Letterman and he couldn’t string two words together.
He sounded, you know, like he ____________ but maybe that’s a part of the act again.
Luke: you can hear him in the announcements that he made. It’s like ….
Howard: It was a bit embarrassing. It was a bit embarrassing.
Luke: Either it’s embarrassing or it’s really funny. I am not sure which one. Now, he is very well known for having a method approach to acting which means that he totally gets into every part that he plays and becomes that character. Right? So what do you think? Do you think he could be just getting into character?
Howard: I think he could well be, yeah I mean because he is famous for – you know people like Robert de Niro. They put on a lot of weight, haven’t they? For roles and they researched these roles and they become like that person and I think he is quite famous for that. So maybe he is trying to become like a homeless rapper.
Luke: Maybe he is becoming a homeless rapper for this new Casey Affleck comedy movie.
Howard: Exactly, yeah, could be, it could be.
Luke: What about his family? I mean, you know, what his family are like? They are very eccentric. Do you think that ….
Howard: Well, his famous younger brother killed himself. Is he older or younger?
Luke: His older brother River Phoenix. He didn’t kill himself. He died from a drugs overdose.
Howard: Yes, he died from a drugs overdose. I heard it’s a quite tragic family, isn’t it?
So, yeah in their history, a lot of, you know, craziness, a lot of, you know, really weird wacky things happening.
Luke: Yes, so, you know, if you look at his family, it kind of suggests that he really is crazy, because the rest of his family is a bit crazy.
Howard: Yeah, I think so. Just a little bit eccentric.
Howard: or crazy
Luke: Now, he made a film called Walk The Line which was about Johnny Cash and in the film he really got into playing the guitar and he actually sang all the songs.
Howard: Really, I didn’t know that.
Luke: Yeah, he sang all the music himself and he played the guitar. So maybe that has influenced him to write the music.
Howard: yeah, to really, yeah okay —
Luke: but he
Howard: walk the line yeah and it might have the songs he sung on that – his rap career not even close are they?
Luke: What is the connection, because like Walk The Line Johnny Cash’s country music but rapping is totally different to country music. So again I am a bit sceptical about it. Apparently recently he had a fight with someone in a crowd.
Luke: Yeah, someone was like hackling him
Howard: Ohh I heard about that actually, okay. .
Luke: Someone was shouting out:’ You are stupid, or it is a piss take or something and he got angry with them and then he jumped into the crowd.
Howard: No way. What did he do?
Luke: I actually think they had a fight and someone was – I think the guy was removed by security guards.
Howard: He’s gone crazy. Did the police come?
Luke: I don’t know. I don’t know about the police but maybe …
Howard: It sounds like he is on the edge.
Luke: Yeah probably he is on the edge. And also finally he keeps insisting that this is real and that’s not a joke. So, I mean whether you believe that or not is your decision. But for me I am leaning towards – It’s all a joke. What about you? What’s your final …
Howard: I think it might be for real. I think, you know, he is ..years and years he has been a famous actor – a lot of pressure, you know surrounded by drugs, by alcohol by beautiful women. I think finally he’s cracked and he’s gone crazy. And this is how it is showing. I think he needs help.
Luke: Yeah, well, I actually hope it’s a joke because if it’s not….
Howard: I hope it’s a joke because I like him genuinely.
Luke: Yeah, I think he is great and I think he is a good actor and if it’s not a joke then he’s got problems.
Luke: I mean I listened to some of his rap music. He had a myspace page for about seven days and it’s been taken down now. But he had some of his music on the myspace page and what else, to be honest, it was pretty bad. Like the lyrics were awful. It was like he would ..it’s like he has taken a sheet from the business section of the newspaper and he was just reading random words about like companies. So it’s like company, you know – company – merchants .stakeholder . stop prize share -share value – credit crunch – recession, you know. that was both ..
Howard: Maybe he is doing something different. Why not? Who wants to be against the rapping why he is doing something you know like a business rap.
Luke: Yeah, well you can do something different, that’s fine but it still has to be good. Yeah, anyway I hope it’s a joke and because I think he is great and we have to ….
Howard: I do – get well
Luke get well soon,
Howard: get well soon Joaquin.
Okay, so – this is the language section of this episode of the podcast. Now if you just listened to that section about Joaquin Phoenix then maybe some vocabulary you don’t know in that conversation I had with Howard. So what I am going to do because this is a long podcast, I am going to define some of the possibly difficult vocabulary on the webpage, okay? .. So if you go to teacherluke.podamatic.com, podamatic is spelled p o d a m a t i c, okay, teacherluke.podamatic. com you’ll find some definitions of some of the terms that we used in that conversation.
So, okay now folks we are going to look at some useful language, okay? And today’s useful language is modal verbs. Now you’ve probably studied modal verbs before, so you probably know about them. Obiviously modal verbs are words like must and might and could and will and should and so on. We use them to express all sorts of different ideas in our sentences. They are very very useful words. They are essential in some situations, of course. We express certain essential ideas with them and they have many different uses. So they can be used to talk about permission, talk about rules. They can be used to talk about regrets or kind of advice and so on. What we are going to look at today is using modal verbs to speculate about things. And by speculate I mean to guess something. So, if there is something you don’t know, you need to guess what it might be – what it might not be. I see I am using might there for example. You have to speculate about it.
For example – let’s say – for example you hear a noise outside. Somebody knocks on the door, you know and you don’t know who it is. So, then you’ll start to speculate, right? You say: Oh, it might be the postman, right? For example. that’s an example of speculating. And we use modal verbs to speculate. Now, I listened to students, listened to learners of English all the time and they don’t use modal verbs to speculate enough, instead what I hear is students using words like maybe or perhaps. That’s much more common. I’ll give you examples of that later on but, okay, so the modal verbs that we use to speculate will be must, might, could and can’t. Okay? We use them to speculate about the present, we also use them to speculate about the past. The difficulty there is the form, the grammatical form that you have to use. And particularily speculating about the past is a little bit difficult. So, to speculate about the present or the future use a modal plus an infinitiv, okay? For example if you are talking about Joaquin Phoenix:
He may have an emotional problem, okay? So you got modal may and infinitiv without to have, alright? He may have an emotional problem, okay?
You can also use it in continuous form. So that would be at a modal verb plus be plus an ing, okay? For example he may be having emotional problems, right?
For speculations about the past you would use a modal verb plus have plus a past participal, okay?
For example: He may have got tired of Hollywood, right?
He may have got tired of Hollywood.
You can use: You might have got tired of Hollywould –
He could have got tired of Hollywood or he may have got tired of Hollywood.
That’s basically the same. May, might and could in that example are basically the same, okay? We use must when you are very sure that something is true.
For example: This must be a joke.
You can use it in the past as well: It must have been a joke.
We use may or might or could – very very similar when you are less sure about something, so when you are not very sure.
For example: He might be serious, but I am not too sure to be honest.
And we use can’t when you are sure that something is not true or didn’t happen.
For example: He can’t be for real or he can’t have given up acting. I just don’t believe it.
So I am just gonna give you some examples now of the things that a student might say and the things that a native speaker would say using modal verbs.
So for example a student might say: Maybe someone broke his heart.
So you can see that they used – they might use maybe, right? Maybe someone broke his heart. But it should be really with a modal verb: Someone might have broken his heart. It sounds a lot better. It sounds more articulate and it sounds more like a native speaker.
More examples: Perhaps he is on drugs. Should be: He could be on drugs, right? Or probably he is making a spoof documentary – he could be making a spoof documentary.
Ah let’s see: He is trying to get publicity for his film. He must be trying to get publicity for his film, right?
Maybe something like: He is in trouble. Maybe he is in trouble. He might be in trouble.
And finally: He definitely isn’t serious should sound like: He can’t be serious.
Now, the examples I gave there of things that the students might say actually are grammatically correct, and are fine. I mean if you say, for example: maybe someone broke his heart. I mean that’s perfectly good and you will hear native speakers saying that, but the problem is the students or learners of English in my experience don’t use modal verbs enough. So the range is not very broad. I mean, for example learners of English won’t use a wide range of vocabulary. They will just use maybe or perhaps because it’s easier, which is perfectly understandable, but it’s really better for your English try to use a wide range and to start including these modal verbs into your vocabulary.
So that’s the little language section there: Modal Verbs. Try to use them – try to put them into your common vocabulary. They are a little bit more difficult to use especially when you are making speculations about the past or when you are using a continuous form – little bit difficult to use sometimes but if you try to use them more and more, you’ll get used to it and you’ll start using them more comfortably and then before you know it, you’ll be using them very well and very often in your every day English.
Okay, that is the end of the podcast and I will upload another one soon. There is a little gap there between episode three and four but there are more podcasts coming soon. So I am going to end with another question. My question on this podcast is of course about Joaquin Phoenix. I’d like to know what you think. What do you think about him? Do you think he is real or is he joking. Is he sick? Or is he acting? What do you think? So let me know. Of course the email is Luketeacher@hotmail.com. I am looking forward to hearing from you. That’s the end of the podcast
bye bye bye
Thanks for downloading Luke’s English podcast. Don’t forget to email at Luketeacher@hotmail.com