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Joaquin Phoenix

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Is Joaquin Phoenix really retiring from movies? I don't believe it.
—Shelley, Newtown, Pa.

You shouldn't. Why? Because celebrities are addicted to fame.

Yes, Joaquin Phoenix says he's quitting films to explore music. Except music doesn't come with the bajillion-dollar fame machine that movies do. Singers are less likely to end up on the cover of Vanity Fair and don't get to go to the Oscars—Miley Cyrus notwithstanding.

Yes, Phoenix is not your typical star. He walks out of interviews and has facial hair better suited for men who live in remote shacks, making bombs out of pine tar and raccoon teeth. But Phoenix also has had a taste of fame. And once you acquire it, it's hard to leave behind.

Where's the proof, you say? Where do I begin...

How about with Hove? Jay-Z promised to retire. He even toured and made a documentary about his retirement. Then he didn't. For the record, he claimed that his disappearance wasn't a publicity stunt.

"I believed it for two years," he told MTV.com. "But something, when you love it, is always tugging at you and itching, and I was putting it off. I started fumbling around to see if it felt good."

Cher took three years to retire via a very, very long farewell tour. Then she never went through with her promise to leave us be. She announced plans to do Vegas instead. It's all very confusing.

Unless you've worked with celebrities all your career.

"In my experience, celebrities, fearful of fading into oblivion, announce their 'retirement' in order to get attention and to be coaxed back with job offers," says psychiatrist to the stars Dr. Carole Lieberman. "They want to hear, 'Oh no! You're not really going to retire, are you? You're such a great actor—we'll really miss you!'

"Then they can play the hero by saying, 'Oh, all right. If you really want me.'"

Sinead O'Connor, Daniel Day-Lewis, Lance Armstrong, Batman, Stephen King, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Michael Jordan and Céline Dion have all dabbled with some manner or class of retirement, only to come out of it again, either to sing something new or win some new prize or just to fight evil.

A few celebrities did make good on their retirements, including classic movie star Greta Garbo, but whether Joaquin Phoenix will also follow through...let's just say that Vanity Fair should keep that cover slot warm for him.

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