Joaquin Phoenix Says Rap Hoax Revitalized His Career, Worth the Criticism

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(Photo: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni)Actor Joaquin Phoenix gestures at the Los Angeles premiere of the movie "Che" during the AFI Fest 2008 at the Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California November 1, 2008.

Joaquin Phoenix has said the rap hoax he spent two years portraying actually saved his career.

For two years Phoenix looked like he was on the verge of homelessness, sporting rugged clothes and a long beard. At the time he revealed a seemingly troubled personality and declared that he was aspiring to become a hip-hop star. Many were shocked at his appearance and demeanor, with some even suggesting he was on drugs.

But now the Hollywood actor has said that the extraordinary period in his life actually saved his career.

It later turned out that the actor had created the persona as part of a documentary for one of his friends and brother-in-law, Casey Affleck, entitled "I'm Not Here."

Many fans will remember Phoenix being interviewed on David Letterman showing the image of someone who was disturbed and at times confused. The portrayal brought him a lot of criticism, but Phoenix has said that the period allowed him to have a break from the intensity of mainstream acting and revitalized him.

Phoenix has said to Time: "Part of why I was frustrated with acting was because I took it so seriously. I want it to be so good that I get in my own way … Once I became a total buffoon, it was so liberating."

He added: "I'd see child actors and I'd get so jealous, because they're just completely wide open. If you could convince them that something frightening was going to happen, they would actually feel terror. I wanted to feel that so badly.

"I'd just been acting too long, and it had kind of been ruined for me. I wanted to put myself in a situation that would feel brand-new and hopefully inspire a new way of approaching acting. It did do that for me."

Phoenix has since come back out to regular acting roles again and initial reviews of his part in Paul Thomas Anderson's film "The Master" has indicated he is back to his best. Phoenix has been praised by critics for his performance, and many are not touting him to continue his rise as one of the best actors in Hollywood.

The Master recently won at the Venice Film Festival, with director Anderson winning the Silver Lion, and Phoenix winning the best actor award along with heralded actor Philip Seymour Hoffman.