You can do just about anything in Hollywood — stints in rehab, wife-beating, being arrested for lewd conduct, or drunk-driving topped off with a few anti-Semitic remarks, to name but a few — but the one thing they’ll never forgive you for is spurning stardom. Woe to those such as Mickey Rourke who called acting “women’s work” and walked away from a successful career to become a professional boxer; in Tinseltown, that’s not bad judgement, that’s scary crazy. Rourke would eventually find work again, but he’s never returned to his former glory.
Oscar-nominated actor Joaquin Phoenix (“Walk the Line”) seemed doomed to a similar fate when he announced in October 2008 that he was through with acting, and would instead launch a career as a rapper. Shortly after that, his caveman facial hair and erratic public behavior (including an infamous appearance on “Late Show with David Letterman”) led people to believe he was either having a mental breakdown or engaging in some twisted Andy Kaufman-esque performance art.