As it turns out, Joaquin Phoenix doesn’t have the best poker face after all. After months of speculation and rumors, it was finally announced earlier this week that Phoenix will officially be playing the Clown Prince of Crime in Todd Phillips’ Joker Origin Movie. When previously asked about the possibility, the actor played coy and gave the stock answer, “it sounds very interesting,” to nearly every reporter that asked him about joining up with DC Films and Warner Bros. However, Phoenix has now broken his silence on his decision making process and explained how excited he is to get to play the Joker.
In a brand-new interview, Joaquin Phoenix was asked about how he got involved in the Joker Origin movie and also asked if he had any apprehension about taking on the role. The actor admitted that it takes him a while to consider the process every time he takes on a role and this time was no different. He then said that he was excited to work with Todd Phillips and that the movie is unique and that it scares him. Phoenix had this to say.
“I take a lot of time and consideration when making decisions and what I’m gonna work on always. So, in some ways, the process, which is obviously reading a script and meeting a filmmaker and then continuing to have meetings and discussions with Todd (Phillips). I think he’s very impressive and he seems to have a very interesting understanding of this world and what he’s trying to say. And so there is something very appealing about that and working with him on this particular project. It feels unique, it is its own world in some ways, and maybe, mostly, it scares the f*cking sh*t out of me or something. It might as well be the thing that scares you the most.”
Joaquin Phoenix was also asked if he looked at any of the fan reactions online to his casting in the Joker Origin movie or thought about what the studios wanted. The villain is one of the most iconic characters in the history of comic books and cinema, so Phoenix admits that there was some pressure in taking on the role. In the end, he says that it’s best to try and ignore the expectations of the studio and the fans in a way to totally own the part and make it his own. He explains.
“It’s a magnified version of what you deal with as an actor. So, when you get a script, obviously, the writer- usually for me, it’s the writer/director, last several years I’ve worked with a filmmaker that was the writer and director- and they have their expectation, and they’ve imagined things in their head, and they’ve imagined different actors, and suddenly you take it on and so there’s this moment of anxiety of Did I live up to their expectations? And at some point you have to just own it and say like, I can’t consider who they might have thought up before or what the movie was for the 6 months ago, this is what it is now and I have to find my way into it. And so in some ways it’s a very similar experience, right? But it feels magnified because it’s not just one person’s expectations, but what you’re telling me is that there’s at least a dozen.”
When asked about what type of film the Joker Origin project will be, Joaquin Phoenix was reluctant to classify it. He did say, for a second time, that it feels “unique” and that he doesn’t think that it’s a studio movie or a superhero film. Once again, he praised director Todd Phillips and his vision for the character, which is pretty much what made Phoenix sign on for the role in the first place. Phoenix says.
“I wouldn’t quite classify this as like any genre. I wouldn’t say it’s a superhero movie, or a studio movie or a… It feels unique, and I think more than anything, and probably the most important thing, is Todd seems very passionate about it and very giving, and so that’s exciting. I think, underneath the excitement of these films, and the size of them, there are these incredible characters that are dealing with real life struggles. And sometimes that is uncovered and exposed, and sometimes it isn’t, and so I always felt, like, there were characters in comics that were really interesting and deserve the opportunity to be kind of studied. And so I think that’s what Todd sees appealing about this idea.”
One of the more interesting parts of the new interview was Joaquin Phoenix stating that he actually had an idea about making a project like the Joker Origin movie a few years ago, but said that he never once considered the Joker because it had been done before. Phoenix wanted to make a low budget character study about a superhero villain. He explains.
“Three or four years ago, I called my agent and said Why don’t they want to take one of these characters and just make a lower budget film about it, a movie but a character study, and why not take one of the villains? And I thought, You can’t do the Joker, because, you know, it’s just you can’t do that character, it’s just been done. So I was trying to think of other characters, and he said I’ll set up a general meeting with Warner Bros. And I said I’m not gonna go, I can’t go to a general meeting. So I completely forgot about it, and so then I heard about this idea, I was like, Oh that’s so exciting, that’s the kind of experience I wanted to have, with a movie based on a comic character. I felt like you could get something on screen.”
It seems that Joaquin Phoenix and Todd Phillips are exactly on the same page for the Joker Origin movie, which makes it all that much more exciting for fans. It will be very interesting to see what Phoenix brings to the role that has been done a few times before, leaving some pretty big shoes to fill. You can read the rest of the interview with Phoenix over at Collider.