Joaquin Phoenix in 'I'm Still Here'It's been a long -- and surreal -- road, but the time has finally come; Sept. 10 will mark the release of Casey Affleck's controversial documentary (or should we say mockumentary?), 'I'm Still Here,' which allegedly chronicles Joaquin Phoenix's journey from Oscar-nominated actor to misguided rap star.

Is the joke on Phoenix, who threw away a critically lauded movie career to become a beardy weirdo who gets defecated on by assistants -- and, after this weekend, likely the public at large too? Or will the unpredictable star get the last laugh by subjecting the moviegoing populace to what could simply be a very well-marketed hoax?

Perhaps we'll never know, but since this tumultuous tale has finally reached its conclusion, we figured that this was the perfect opportunity to take you on a stroll down memory lane. Join us after the jump for our timeline of Phoenix's 'I'm Still Here' shenanigans, then come back on Friday to weigh in on whether you think the whole thing was fact or fiction. Joaquin Phoenix in 'I'm Still Here'It's been a long -- and surreal -- road, but the time has finally come; Sept. 10 will mark the release of Casey Affleck's controversial documentary (or should we say mockumentary?), 'I'm Still Here,' which allegedly chronicles Joaquin Phoenix's journey from Oscar-nominated actor to misguided rap star.

Is the joke on Phoenix, who threw away a critically lauded movie career to become a beardy weirdo who gets defecated on by assistants -- and, after this weekend, likely the public at large too? Or will the unpredictable star get the last laugh by subjecting the moviegoing populace to what could simply be a very well-marketed hoax?

Perhaps we'll never know, but since this tumultuous tale has finally reached its conclusion, we figured that this was the perfect opportunity to take you on a stroll down memory lane. Join us after the jump for our timeline of Phoenix's 'I'm Still Here' shenanigans, then come back on Friday to weigh in on whether you think the whole thing was fact or fiction.

October 2008

The bizarro behavior began way back in the fall of '08, when Phoenix, who was already cultivating an impressive chin bush and toting around his own camera crew, dropped the bombshell -- on an unsuspecting E! reporter -- that he was retiring from acting; this was made all the more hilarious by the fact that the interviewer was convinced that Phoenix was kidding. Phoenix took offense to the reporter's incredulity and stomped off, leaving the ever-present Affleck to confirm the news. Watch the video from E!Online below:


January 2009
Phoenix resurfaced early the next year looking unnervingly like Cat Stevens, and one of his first acts as an aspiring musician was surprisingly not to release an album that took advantage of his obvious talent as a singer (displayed so ably in 'Walk the Line') but to take to the stage of a Las Vegas club to perform an awkward, largely rhythmless, obscenity-laced "rap" (and we use the term loosely) for a crowd of bewildered and giggling fans, before falling off the stage.


Anonymous sources immediately started coming forward, telling EW that the whole thing was just an elaborate ruse, prompting Phoenix's publicist to insist to MTV News that Phoenix "intends on exploring his musical interests despite speculative, negative or positive reactions." Are we convinced?

February 2009
To promote the release of his so-called "final" film, 'Two Lovers,' opposite Gwyneth Paltrow in Feb. '09, Phoenix made a now-infamous appearance on 'The Late Show With David Letterman' -- and it was awkward enough to give even some of Letterman's most cringeworthy interviews a run for their money. Like everyone else who was told of the actor's burgeoning rap career, the audience took everything Phoenix said (or didn't say, more often than not) as one huge punchline, causing the stoic star to ask Letterman, "That's a joke? What do you have them on? What do you gas them up with? Is this nitrous?" Letterman tried to laugh along, though it was obvious that he would've gotten more information out of a brick wall, eventually ending the segment with, "Joaquin, I'm sorry you couldn't be here tonight," as he shook Phoenix's hand. Awk-waaard.




May 2009

Things were blissfully quiet on the crazycakes front for a couple of months, until Casey Affleck called for footage of Phoenix from across the Internet for his then-untitled documentary on his buddy. Affleck encouraged fans to upload their amateur video of Phoenix to his (now sadly defunct) site, JoaqDoc.com, for potential inclusion in the film. Yes, the fact that the URL could be read phonetically as "JokeDoc.com" wasn't lost on us either.

August 2009
OK, we're aware that 99.9 percent of everything that The National Enquirer prints is about as real as Heidi Montag's face, but we couldn't resist including this gem from the never-ending parade of Phoenix's lunacy -- the dude's so unhinged these days, it might even be true. According to the Enquirer (via Celebitchy), Phoenix was spotted pawing through clothing racks at a vintage store on Melrose, whereupon "he finally grabbed a black velvet cape, black trousers and mesh top, ducked into a dressing room -- and began belting rap songs," before eventually deciding to wear the ensemble home. He then proceeded to terrify the shop assistant, who dared to ask the crazy cape-wearing hobo how he'd like to pay for his purchases, by banging a wad of cash on the counter and shouting "MONEY!" We kind of hope it's true (and that Affleck's camera crew was there), because that sounds like comedy gold.

May 2010

Fast-forward almost a year to Affleck's announcement that the film was completed and looking for buyers, most of whom seemed even more bewildered by the film's subject on the way out than they were going in. A press release from distributor Magnolia Pictures paints the movie as a work of modern art: "sometimes funny, sometimes shocking and always riveting, the film is a portrait of an artist at a crossroads. Defying expectations, it deftly explores notions of courage and creative reinvention, as well as the ramifications of a life spent in the public eye." We think that audiences are probably going to be more interested in the drugs, prostitutes and full-frontal male nudity, but maybe we're just cynics!

August 2010
Last month, we were treated to a debut of the movie's poster and teaser trailer, neither of which did much to dispel the image of Phoenix as being completely cuckoo-bananas as the release date loomed ...

September 10, 2010
Which brings us to Sept. 10, the day when all of our questions may be answered, or, more likely, we'll just have a whole bunch of new questions and be down 12 bucks. Either way, the film goes into limited release on the 10th, before expanding nationwide the week after. Will you be watching? Perhaps this new clip featuring Sean 'Diddy' Combs will help sway your decision:



[Follow Laura on Twitter @LauinLA.]
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