Hoax, trick, performance art, mockumentary: whatever you want to call it, it’s still fiction. Casey Affleck has finally made clear that his film I’m Still There, starring Joaquin Phoenix playing a fake version of Joaquin Phoenix, is almost entirely made up. 

Affleck, 35, seemed almost apologetic when he disclosed the truth. “I never intended to trick anybody. The idea of a quote, hoax, unquote, never entered my mind," he told the New York Times. The movie has sparked debate over its veracity from the very beginning, showing, as it does, intense and often disturbing scenes of Phoenix, 35, consorting with hookers, doing hard drugs and pursuing a rap career.

But according to Affleck, practically none of it is real. “It’s a terrific performance, it’s the performance of his career,” he said of Phoenix’s role. Though Affleck says that there are little hints throughout the film that it’s put on, he also acknowledges that "there is no wink."

The joke goes back as far as Phoenix’s now famously zany Letterman appearance, where Phoenix seemed so loopy that Letterman ended with "Joaquin, I’m sorry you couldn’t be here tonight." Phoenix returns to Letterman Wednesday, out of character. –AMY LEE

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