Joaquin Phoenix Hoax Debunked

In 2008, Joaquin Phoenix grew out a beard. It looked like he had gone off the deep end. There was talk that he was about to pursue a rap career. Casey Affleck, who helped to create the concept behind “I’m Still Here,” admitted in 2010 that the entire thing was a hoax. Although the film was treated as a documentary and is still sometimes thought of today as one, Affleck stated that it was for a mockumentary that was being made with Phoenix.

What Was the Concept Behind the Movie?

Much of the hoax that was committed on the American public began with an appearance on the “David Letterman Show” in February of 2009. On the show, Phoenix had a very strange appearance. He stated that he was retiring as an actor and that he was pursuing a new career as a rapper. To make things more realistic, Letterman handled the entire situation as if it were real. That’s because he wasn’t in on the act.

“It’s a terrific performance, it’s the performance of his career,” Affleck told the New York Times in 2010. That’s because for 24 months straight, Phoenix portrayed himself off and on the screen as a rap star who was near the brink of being completely ruined. Those who saw the movie, however, would likely disagree. It has a 6.2/10 rating on IMDB and a 54% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Overall it brought in more than $500,000 in total.

Why did Phoenix agree to take on a 2 year role that encompassed all parts of his life? He says that it helped his overall acting career to do so. He said in a Time magazine interview that he was starting to take his acting career a little to seriously. He wanted to take lessons from performance art, including the numerous home videos that were allegedly filmed to help show his love for wrap.

Did Phoenix Actually Retire From Hollywood?

Absolutely not. The entire gimmick was a two year stunt that helped to market the film that was eventually released. Although it may not have been an entirely profitable venture, it did allow Phoenix to explore the various sides of acting so that he could become a well-rounded professional. In the follow-up movie that he released after “I’m Still Here” called “The Master,” he was highly praised for his performance and had plenty of Oscar buzz surrounding him.

“For some people acting is a sunset stroll on a beach, and for others it’s scaling a cliff or jumping out of a plane,” Phoenix told the New York Times in a 2012 interview. “In so much of my life, I take sunset strolls on the beach. When I act, I like the idea of jumping out of the plane.”

Phoenix did such a good job of jumping out of a plane with his retirement and subsequent false rap career that many people still believe it was real. The reality, however, is that it was a hoax that is easily debunked.