Throughout late 2008 and early 2009, Joaquin Phoenix confused David Letterman and everyone else when he appeared to had given up his acclaimed acting career for a beard and some rhymes. And while many believed his actions were either the result of some sort of new role or drugs, the 35-year-old Walk the Line star remained adamant in his new found life as rapper, telling New York Magazine, “I just don’t feel challenged by acting anymore. I don’t enjoy the process anymore.”
A year later, Phoenix has resurfaced, this time without the beard. As TwentyFourBit discovered on Friday, Phoenix appears in a brand new YouTube video aimed at encouraging people to vote for suicide prevention charity To Write Love on Her Arms in an ongoing contest for a $1 million grant. Appearing alongside TWLOHA founder Jamie Tworkowsk, Miley Cyrus, and Liv Tyler, the clip shows him clean-shaven, noticeably thinner, and, well, acting normal.
All this comes just a week after rep for Phoenix’s friend Casey Affleck told E! News that a documentary he was shooting about his Phoenix’s “foray into hip-hop is now in postproduction.” In other words, Joaquan Phoenix probably isn’t actually a crazy, drug-abusing, atrocious rapper after all.
That said, this doesn’t necessarily mean Phoenix doesn’t have a career in music — outside of playing Johnny Cash. Last week, L.A. musician Julian Shah-Taylor told E! News that Phoenix recorded an album prior to his hip-hop venture — and a rather brilliant one at that. “He’s a Beatles, Oasis, Bowie-style songwriter. I hold it in that high esteem,” Shah-Taylor explained. “He’s accomplished just about everything anyone could accomplish as an artist. So coming out with a brilliant album of great music would not surprise anybody, and I think that’s maybe why he didn’t release it… And I think it’s better to have some secrets, and I think Joaquin’s secret is his prodigious music talent.”
Shah-Taylor, who met Phoenix through Spacehog member Anthony Langdon, went on to note that Phoenix recorded eight tracks at his in-house studio, possibly with Tim Burgess, the frontman for British rock outfit The Charlatans.
There is no word on whether Phoenix plans to release the album, or when Affleck’s documentary is expected to hit theaters. At the very least, this has proved to be one interesting-as-hell story.