Monday, June 1, 2009

Joaquin Phoenix's Rap Career: Real or Hoax?

Throughout his entire career one thing Joaquin Phoenix could never be described as is typical. His parents were members of the religious cult the 'Children of God,' he used to credit himself under the name Leaf and he has siblings with names like Summer, Rain, and Liberty.

Phoenix's career took another unexpected turn late last year when he announced that he was retiring from acting to focus on his music career. What's even more farfetched is that Phoenix is trying to make it as a rap artist.

If the career transition holds true, Phoenix's last film will be "Two Lovers," which opened on Friday.

Phoenix has had a lengthy and extremely successful acting career. He began with guest appearances on television shows and established himself as a child actor in 1989 when he co-starred in "Parenthood," featuring Steve Martin and directed by Ron Howard. Afterwards Phoenix decided to withdraw from acting for a while and travel with his father to Mexico and South America.

Phoenix was thrust into public view again after his brother River Phoenix suffered a fatal drug overdose in 1993 outside the Viper Room in Hollywood. The 911 call Joaquin made to attempt to save his brother was recorded and repeatedly played over airwaves and television. Phoenix retreated from the public once again and did not re-emerge until a year later.

After playing small roles in Gus Van Sant's "To Die For" and Oliver Stone's "U-Turn," Phoenix received his first Academy Award nomination for his supporting role in Ridley Scott's "Gladiator." The biggest role of his career however would come a few years later. Phoenix was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar and won a Golden Globe for his role as iconic musician Johnny Cash in "Walk the Line."

After the announcement rumors swirled through the industry claiming that the whole ploy was an elaborate hoax. But after playing shows in Culver City and Las Vegas, and signing a record deal with Sean “Diddy” Combs the career change seems legitimate. His brother-in-law, actor Casey Affleck, is following Phoenix and filming the transition for a documentary.

This strange story took another unexpected turn last week when Phoenix appeared on “The Late Show with David Letterman.” On the show to promote his film “Two Lovers,” Phoenix had an extremely awkward interview with Letterman.

He stumbled out onto the stage in a sloppy suit with sunglasses and a huge “Grizzly Adams”-type beard. Phoenix seemed totally out of it during the interview, and at one point stuck a piece of gum he was chewing under the host’s desk. Letterman finished the interview by saying “Joaquin, I’m sorry you couldn’t be here tonight.”

The actor claims that his aspiring rap career is not a fabrication, but legitimate publications have reported that it is. Entertainment Weekly said that two sources close to the actor told them that his rap career is a “complete hoax” being perpetrated by Affleck to “poke fun at pompous actors and the media.”

Phoenix’s rap performances have received horrible reviews and can be easily found on YouTube. According to the former actor his rap career has started “terrible,” but doesn’t seem phased by his lack of success.

"It's not about quote, unquote 'being good.' It's about an experience. I didn't act because I wanted people to say I was good; I enjoyed that process. And now, I enjoy this process. What can I say? The album might suck. Everyone might hate it, and I might be the only one who likes it. But that's OK, because I'm having an amazing time making the record."

Whether Phoenix’s rap career is a hoax or not, it has made for some interesting headlines.

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