Joaquin Phoenix on the fear and laughter that comes with playing The Joker

Now that it's been confirmed that Joaquin Phoenix has finalized his deal to star in a Joker origin movie, its high time that someone gets inside the actor's head and starts asking some very poignant questions about the project. Thankfully, Steve "Frosty" Weintraub of Collider recently sat down with the WALK THE LINE and SIGNS star with the hope of discovering what brings a smile to the face of the man set to play the next Clown Prince of Crime.

To recap, we know that the film will be directed and co-written by Todd Phillips (THE HANGOVER), for what is being described as an "exploration of a man disregarded by society [that] is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale." Filming on the curious project is set to begin this September in New York, and will be presented to fans as part of a yet-to-be-announced banner of DC Films aimed at telling stories outside the studio's core cinematic universe. The film recently sprayed itself in the face with its own acid flower, once it was announced that Martin Scorsese will no longer be directly producing the film as his plate is quite full for the forseeable. However, like a Dark Knight in shining armor, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, president of production for Scorsese's Sikelia Productions, has announced that she'll be taking the Scorsese's role as producer.

As we return to the matter at hand, we come to find Weintraub in Phoenix's good company, asking the THE MASTER alum if he's at all nervous about playing the part:

“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 fucking shit out of me or something. It might as well be the thing that scares you the most,” Phoenix confessed.

As their talk continued, Weintraub discovered that Phoenix had given some previous thought to a film similar to the Joker project. It makes you wonder if Phoenix is a fan of BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, which gave us one of the best Joker origin tales to date by presenting the sad and twisted tale of a would-be comedian who falls in with the wrong crowd and later loses his sanity in a vat of boiling chemicals. Weintraub asked for more details on Phoenix's vision, and here's what he had to say:

“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,” said Phoenix.

As their time together neared its end, Weintraub asked about the "singular" nature of the project, and how keeping the tale seperate from that of the other DC films would shake out. Phoenix then replied, “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 then 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."

For the full interview with Phoenix, be sure to visit Collider, should you want to delve deeper down the Joker rabbit hole. In the meantime, what do you think of Phoenix's insight and approach to Phillips' upcoming film? Are you looking forward to this exploration of The Jester of Genocide? Would you like to see more standalone films from the DC universe? Do you think this is a smart step for the studio, or should they be concentrating on building out their primary cinematic universe? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Source: Collider



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