There is a man in this photo with Joaquin Phoenix. Learn his face, for he may be the dark wizard conjurer behind Phoenix's career transformation into a trainwreck.

The man in question is Phoenix's Two Lovers director, James Gray, who we once sympathized with—after all, the film's publicity tour has become a circus of late adopters who just watched Letterman and don't realize that this rapping enterprise is so hoaxy, it could have been brainstormed in a committee made of Rosie Ruiz, the Nigerian email scammers, and the Backwards "B" Girl.

Now, though, Gray is telling ABC about fears that he set off Phoenix's "rap career" by asking him to freestyle poorly in Two Lovers:

"That rap thing ... in the movie actually comes from something I played for him," Gray said. "I had an obsession with doing that sort of thing as a teenager. ... It turns out that Joaquin is imitating me in a lot of the movie. He said, 'I want to do that, I want to steal from that, I want to do the rap that you used to do.' I said, 'OK.'

"And now I'm seeing him do this thing, and I feel like I've ruined Joaquin Phoenix for the world," Gray added. "I don't want to be the guy that destroyed Joaquin Phoenix's acting career." [...]

Gray saw Phoenix Wednesday night, after the star taped his appearance on "The Late Show," but before it aired. Gray asked how the interview went.

"He said 'Oh it was good, it was really good," Gray said. "I watched it this morning ... I don't know what to say."

How about: made up, made up, it was made up, it was made up. But at least he'll get an US Weekly cover sidebar out of it!