This three-time Oscar nominee -- who this year is up for Best Actor for his powerful portrayal in The Master -- shockingly announced in 2008 that he was retiring from acting to pursue a career in hip-hop music. It was later revealed that the announcement -- along with consistently erratic behavior and appearances -- was faked as part of a mockumentary he was filming with Casey Affleck.
1. Born Joaquin Rafael Bottom on October 28, 1974 in Puerto Rico. He was the middle child in a brood of five and his parents were missionaries for the Children of God religious movement.
2. As part of research for his role in the 2004 film Ladder 49, he actually graduated from the Baltimore Fire Academy and spent a month living and working with real firefighters and helping fight real fires.
3. A strict vegan and animal rights activist, he once refused to wear shoes during a photo shoot for designer brand Prada because they were made of leather.
4. Has said that he refuses to watch his movies or read his own interviews. "If I watch myself, I'm not satisfied. I see things I've missed," he told People magazine.
5. Was in a car accident in 2006 in which his car flipped over on a winding canyon road. He was helped out of the wreckage by German film director Werner Herzog, who lived near the scene of the crash. After the rescue, Herzog called an ambulance and then vanished.