Ben Stiller reportedly flipped out over his Oscar script the day before this year's show. But the Joaquin Phoenix impersonation he came up with as a replacement was hardly original.
Frank Coraci had done the same bit just the night before at the Independent Spirit Awards, Page Six reminds us. Stiller was at the ceremony only via recorded video, since he was in his ill-fated Oscar rehearsals at the time, but would have had time to hear buzz about Coraci's stunt in the intervening day. Stiller kept his impersonation plans secret until he arrived at the theater Sunday, according to Page Six.
Coraci's impersonation (above, NSFW) wasn't as good, but then again he's a director, not an actor. And he was first! Plus the idea of pairing Phoenix with a ranting Christian Bale is inspired. It's not, in the end, surprising that a mainstream actor like Stiller would appropriate and reprocess the idea for a broader audience (video below): That's how his business works, and how the Oscar audience was able to enjoy some biting humor along with all the cheery musicals.