I'm all for people looking to expand their creative horizons, but I know -- like most of you -- that when news first hit that Joaquin Phoenix was retiring from acting to focus on a hip-hop career, my first reaction was: Are you kidding me? Well, it looks like there's a very good possibility that's exactly what the celebrated actor is trying to do. Over at EW, a source is reporting that Casey Affleck and Phoenix are the orchestrators of a massive hoax. According to EW, Phoenix told the unnamed source, "It's a put-on. I'm going to pretend to have a meltdown and change careers, and Casey is going to film it."

EW wasn't the first to cry 'bull' at Phoenix's antics; Defamer had gotten in early on the act, and when video footage surfaced of Phoenix falling off stage and slurring his way through a rap tune in Vegas, it convinced a lot of people that his new "career change" was nothing but a big joke or gimmick ... or next year's most talked-about secret Sundance film. To be fair, it's not like this was the first time Phoenix had behaved a little strangely, so once The Hollywood Reporter announced that Affleck would be making a documentary chronicling his brother in law's music career, it gave the news a bit more weight. Meanwhile, reps for both Phoenix and Sean 'Diddy' Combs (who was apparently going to produce Phoenix's album) have declined to comment on EW's story.

But now everyone is getting in on the fun, and there is a fake MySpace page with 'demos' and the competition is heating up to see who can solve the mystery first. But for those of us who still might be worried that Phoenix has lost it, you might feel better knowing EW's source was also quoted as saying "It's an art project for him. He's going full out. He probably has told his reps that he's quit acting. Joaquin is very smart. This is very conscious. He has a huge degree of control." Personally, if this ridiculousness is in the service of a mockumentary about celebrity freak-outs, I am all for it -- but nothing stays secret on the Internet for long, and if this is a hoax, it's kind of a shame that everyone is trying to ruin their fun (including, ahem, us).

So it's time to place your bets, folks -- is this all some Sacha Baron Cohen-style hoax? Or have we all just received front row seats to watch Phoenix torpedo his career?