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Image: Joaquin Phoenix
Matt Sayles  /  AP
Beginning in 2008, actor Joaquin Phoenix turned down numerous movie roles, grew his hair long and added a scraggly beard, and began wearing dark sunglasses at all hours. Many believe it was all a bizarre stunt created to be turned into a film.
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updated 7/14/2010 3:47:35 PM ET 2010-07-14T19:47:35

Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix has made quite the spectacle of himself the past two years or so. Surprising many, the star of "Gladiator" and "Walk the Line" claimed he had "retired" from acting in 2008, and was intent on becoming a hip-hop artist.

It was unclear whether this was some sort of charade or a true artistic change of heart because Phoenix has always seemed a little off kilter to many who have worked with him. Still, in the months that followed, he turned down numerous lucrative movie roles in order to work on his music, growing out a long beard and wearing dark sunglasses at all hours.

Questions about the legitimacy of Phoenix's supposed plans first came to light after a bizarre appearance on "The Late Show with David Letterman" in 2009. Phoenix's longtime friend Casey Affleck, was on hand to record the moment — leading to scuttlebutt that the actor's behavior was all for a documentary or mockumentary project.

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Considering that Phoenix is now actively looking to return to acting, it appears the last 24 months were a long experiment in the former. Audiences will get to see what was really going on when Affleck's new film, "I'm Not Here," debuts in theaters on Sept. 10.

Magnolia Films announced Wednesday that they had acquired worldwide rights to the film. In a statement, the film was described as "sometimes funny, sometimes shocking, and always riveting ... a portrait of an artist at a crossroads."

While Magnolia is a legitimate independent studio, it's also clear "I'm Not Here" may not be up to par if larger companies passed on what could be a relatively inexpensive, out of the box hit. It's also curious that Affleck and Phoenix, who have many friends and associates in the independent film world, could not get the documentary into any significant film festivals over the past year. The Sept. 10 date insinuates, at least at this point, it certainly won't be at the Venice, Toronto or Telluride festivals.

Phoenix has not committed to an new upcoming projects, but reportedly considered replacing Edward Norton as the Hulk in "The Avengers."

Copyright 2012 by HitFix.com

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