In what might have been the worst-kept secret in the history of Hollywood, Casey Affleck has finally revealed that his new movie, 'I'm Still Here,' was an elaborately crafted mockumentary. The film, which chronicled Joaquin Phoenix's very public meltdown and decision to abandon his acting career for a life as a hip-hop artist, opened in limited release last week -- to less than flattering reviews. The real question is should -- or does -- anyone even care?
Affleck seems perplexed by the critical response to his film, which inspires thoughts of some of Andy Kaufman's better gags -- and cites the role as the performance of Phoenix's career. The director says "the reviews were so angry," and then wonders why -- if it was the content of the film (which finds Phoenix doing drugs and cavorting with prostitutes on camera) or the fact that he didn't give viewers a clear sign that the film was a staged production in the first place.
"I never intended to trick anybody," Affleck tells 'The New York Times.' "The idea of a quote, hoax, unquote, never entered my mind." It seems hard to believe that, given how much press Phoenix's bizarre antics -- including a surreal appearance on David Letterman's talk show, generated -- and the resulting debate over whether this was an elaborately crafted piece of performance art or not. Few people seemed willing to believe that the actor -- who'd earned critical acclaim for his performance as Johnny Cash in 'Walk the Line' -- would forsake his acting career in favor of music. This became even more obvious when footage of Phoenix rapping turned up online. Clearly, he's a better actor than MC ...
Affleck feels it was necessary to create the ambiguity around the film so that people believed what was happening was real, which makes his quote about not planning a hoax seem dubious at best. Is the joke still going?
Now that the truth has been revealed, Phoenix is ready to return to acting -- and is now accepting offers for his next part. Will audiences take him back, though?