Joaquin Phoenix's recent foray into rap is not a hoax, his publicist has claimed, despite reports claiming the actor has conceived an elaborate joke.

The Walk the Line star announced in October that he was quitting acting to pursue a music career.

However, the revelation that actor and brother-in-law Casey Affleck was to direct a documentary on Phoenix's attempted hip-hop career aroused suspicion that Phoenix may be orchestrating a practical joke.

And a source said to be close to the actor has now claimed the Golden Globe winner sees the scheme as an "art project".

"[Phoenix] said: 'It's a put-on. I'm going to pretend to have a meltdown and change careers, and Casey [Affleck] is going to film it,'" the source told Entertainment Weekly.

"He's going full out. He probably has told his reps that he's quit acting," the source added.

"Joaquin is very smart. This is very conscious. He has a huge degree of control."

Phoenix's publicist Susan Patricola attempted to set the record straight on Wednesday, issuing a statement to MTV News.

"The transition from one career to another is never seamless," she said of the critical reaction to Phoenix's first rap show.

"It should come as no surprise to anyone that Joaquin came from a musical family, in addition to winning a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Johnny Cash.

She concluded: "He intends on exploring his musical interests despite speculative, negative or positive reactions."

29/01/2009 09:37:55