Sources claim the actor's shocking new appearance and performance is an elaborate put-on

By Mark Dagostino
Updated January 28, 2009 10:30 AM
Credit: PA Photos/Landov

Joaquin Phoenix told the world he’s quitting acting. Then he took to the stage in Vegas Jan. 16 to debut his new career as a rapper. But is it all an elaborate hoax?

That’s what Entertainment Weekly is reporting. Sources tell the magazine’s Hollywood Insider blog that Phoenix’s bizarre career change, which Casey Affleck (who’s married to Phoenix’s sister Summer) has been filming, is a joke at the expense of the entertainment media and actors who take themselves too seriously.

“He said, ‘It’s a put-on. I’m going to pretend to have a meltdown and change careers, and Casey is going to film it,'” says one source who recently worked with Phoenix.

Like Andy Kaufman before him – or maybe even Sacha Baron Cohen – Phoenix isn’t expected to break character anytime soon, EW reports: “It’s an art project for him,” says a source. “He’s going full out. He probably has told his reps that he’s quit acting. Joaquin is very smart.”