Joaquin Phoenix saved from flames by Werner Herzog

  • Bang Showbiz
  • 6 April 2017
Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix

Hollywood star Joaquin Phoenix was saved from certain death by German director Werner Herzog in 2006 when he got him out of a wrecked car

Joaquin Phoenix was once saved from being burned alive inside a car by Werner Herzog.

The famed German director witnessed the 42-year-old star's vehicle flip over in the Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, in 2006 after he veered to avoid a collison.

Despite Phoenix walking away injury-free, Herzog has insisted he was moments away from certain death when he sprang to his rescue because the vehicle "dripping in gasoline" and Phoenix was paralysed in shock "fiddling with his cigarette lighter".

Herzog, 74, explained to Yahoo Movies: "I saw a car [going] way too fast in front of me, weaving down, and going up an embankment almost vertically and flipping over in the air.

"I saw one man, upside down, fiddling with his cigarette lighter, deathly pale in his face, and I said to him - I recognised him; it was Joaquin - I said to him, 'Man, relax.' And he said, 'I am relaxed.' And I said, 'Can I have your cigarette lighter?' And he wouldn't give it to me, so I distracted him, snatched it away, because there was gasoline dripping all over the car."

Phoenix was 31 at the time and recalling the horrifying incident at the time, he said he felt "a bit confused" but suddenly heard 'The Wrath of God' director's voice and felt at ease.

The 'Walk The Line' star told The New York Times newspaper: "I remember this knocking on the passenger window. There was this German voice saying, 'Just relax.' There's the air bag. I can't see, and I'm saying, 'I'm fine. I am relaxed.'

"Finally, I rolled down the window and this head pops inside. And he said, 'No, you're not.' And suddenly I said to myself, 'That's Werner Herzog!' There's something so calming and beautiful about Werner Herzog's voice. I felt completely fine and safe. I climbed out."

Despite the close encounter, Phoenix and Werzog have never worked together on a movie.

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