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Phoenix Denies Report of On-Set Breakdown

Joaquin Phoenix (search) denies tabloid reports that he had a breakdown while filming the upcoming Johnny Cash biopic and says he was merely acting, according to a magazine report.

Phoenix banged his head on the bedpost while shooting a scene that recalled Cash's brother's death in "Walk the Line," (search) prompting speculation he was reacting to the 1993 death of his own brother, River.

He tells Newsweek he was just trying to get into the emotional state of his character, a young Cash going through drug withdrawal.

"You know, the press has kind of imposed upon me the title of Mourning Brother, and because I haven't been vocal about it, the assumption is that I'm holding onto this (stuff) that's just not there," he tells the magazine in its latest issue.

Phoenix sees no connection between Cash's losing his older brother at a young age and his own brother's death.

"I don't need to pull from my experience for a character, and I've never understood why actors would, except for lack of ability, imagination or research," he says. "I had all three things, so this is a little frustrating to me, because it denies my work and the research that I did."

Suggesting he'd use his personal life for a movie "kind of makes me sick," he added.

"Walk the Line" traces Cash's rise from the son of an Arkansas farmer to the "Man in Black." It co-stars Reese Witherspoon as Cash's wife, June Carter.