It’s one of the few downsides of the job and while the snark is occasionally balanced by super love and adoration, when your fantasies about someone turn out to be just that – just fantasies – it absolutely crushes you.

Such is the case with Joaquin Phoenix. I am sad.

I loved him after Walk the Line. It was mild obsession. Read every article, watched every interview, make believe scenarios replayed in my mind – we would meet, he would pursue me, he would invite Colin Firth to our house. Happily ever after, the end.

Unfortunately … not happy. And as for the end – I certainly hope he puts an end to whatever he’s doing to himself.

He is, of course, a brilliant actor. Brilliant. One of the best. And he has brought a new film to TIFF called Reservation Road co-starring the equally brilliant Mark Ruffalo – more on him later. In a word, Mark is DELIGHTFUL.

Back to Joaquin: I saw him yesterday at the Intercon goofing around with his cast members. Seemed very animated but not alarmingly so. However, word from the Sutton Place the same afternoon is that he was completely jacked – bright eyes, a close talker, speaking very quickly, eyes darting this way and that, a little bit paranoid, and looked like he’d barely showered.

Last night he apparently raged super hard. I was at the Park Hyatt, he had an area secured for him off to the side, but he came up, saw how packed it was, got freaked out, and decided to go somewhere else. Wherever he went, he was feeling the effects of it all day.

His junket was this morning. Everyone EVERYONE was talking about how rough he looked. Walked down the hall totally hunched over covering his head, couldn’t believe he could stand up straight. Luckily I was in the early rotation. He was in a foul mood. And looking at him face to face put me in a foul mood. Most disappointing is that you know the hotness is in there, hidden under layers and layers of hurt and trauma and whatever else it is that Joaquin Phoenix is escaping.

And you know what? We didn’t have a bad time. Famous for being surly and difficult with reporters, he actually didn’t mind my questions. And with Joaquin you know when he minds your questions because he will not hesitate to either throw you out of his room or walk out on you himself. It happens all the time. It happened to a journalist just today.

Towards the end though, it was like a switch went off. He went from being rather articulate to no longer being in the mood to talk. And to be honest, when you’re face to face with someone in such bad shape, the only thing you want to do is to get out of the room anyway.

So I wrapped, he thanked me, we shook hands, said he appreciated the time, and then stood up, grabbed his smokes and hustled over to the bathroom. Twenty minutes later, having finished two or three more, he walked off the entire junket. No more interviews. He couldn’t get through.

To me, this was no simple hangover. It is beyond hangover. This is a problem. A very serious problem. Looking at him, all I was reminded of were the kids we work with at Covenant House Vancouver They are in such turmoil, in such need of escape, so deeply damaged that their hurt becomes contagious. And while many other actors who may have behaved in the same fashion may just be assholes, period, with Joaquin, given how truly beloved he is by all of those around him and everyone who has worked with him, given how gentle he is even when he’s acting like a dickhead, you really do get the sense that this is someone who is in an enormous amount of pain and who is dealing with it in the unhealthiest of ways.

But it’s not over. Only 2 hours later, Joaquin had apparently recovered. He was still at the Intercon having lunch on the patio with his co-stars. He still wasn’t all that steady on his feet, walking wasn’t too easy, but the attitude appeared to have been adjusted. WAY in the opposite direction. Shouting and laughing and whooping it up loudly, and then proceeded to get down on his knees and started singing at the top of his lungs. Then he took his sunglasses off, whipped them at Mark Ruffalo, and continued his song.

You will note this was not a private area. There were other diners, many of them journalists, also eating on the patio. And all of them were buzzing – Joaquin Phoenix is out of control. Joaquin Phoenix is sad smut.