Joaquin Phoenix: Actor

"I was driving up Laurel Canyon the other day," Ladder 49 star Joaquin Phoenix once recalled, "and I see all this smoke and there's a van on fire -- the engine's on fire -- and I jump out and I run and the guy's trying to move all this stuff out of the van. I kind of run up and grab a T-shirt and run back... And people are driving by and they're saying, 'It's gonna blow! It's gonna blow!'

"So I'm thinking, 'Don't panic; rely on your training. So I think back and I think back to my training... and I remember weird details, like a window is three feet above the ground in a house, and the female end of a coupling [extension cord] leads you out of a fire, but nothing about cars.

"So I look at the owner and I panic, and I say, 'Run! It's gonna blow!' And I take off running... and duck behind a wall. And all these people -- then they recognize me: 'That's the guy from Ladder 49! He did the research. He knows!'

"So everyone goes scrambling. They're hiding under bushes and cars. And we sit looking at each other for, like, ten minutes. There's no explosion, just the sound of this guy's whole life slowly burning.

"The fire department shows up, and they slowly amble up and spray a little water on it. So I come out of hiding from behind the wall and the owner of the van is there looking at me with tear-stained cheeks just looking at me, like, 'Mr Research! Mr Method Actor! Thanks so much!'"

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