In October 2019, comedian Joaquin Phoenix becomes the new face of the Joker in front of Todd Phillips’ camera. An emblematic role but also very difficult to play, as the actor explained at the time of the film’s release.
Joker: out of DCEU
While Jared Leto is still the official face of the Joker in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), Warner decided to offer Batman’s Nemesis his own adventure outside of the usual continuity of the DC Universe. Directed by Todd Phillips this new Joker is indeed not registered in the DCEU and acts as a free electron in the DC cinematic universe. The opportunity for the firm to introduce Joaquin Phoenix as this new prince of crime. It then becomes the fifth actor to portray the Joker at the cinema in the live version.
Joker met with resounding success in cinemas. Nominated 11 times for the Oscars, Joker is the comic adaptation that has generated the most nominations at this ceremony in the history of cinema. Todd Phillips’ feature film, however, left with only two statuettes: Best Music and Best Actor for Joaquin Phoenix. On the box office side, the feature film also proved to be a triumph with more than 1 billion dollars in revenue (for a budget of 55 million).
The reasons that pushed Joaquin Phoenix to accept the role
Joaquin Phoenix is an actor who chooses his roles with a lot of precision and requirements. Joker does a little exceptional office in his career. Already because it is an adaptation of comics, a kind he had never experienced before. Then, logically, such a role will force him to come back in a sequel, which will lead him into the very first saga of his career. However, the role of the Joker was very close to his heart, as he explained at the time of the film’s release:
As always, I take a long time to choose a role. My way of doing it is obviously to read a script, meet the director and continue to meet Todd Phillips to discuss. I find him impressive, he knows this universe well and knows what he wants to tell about it. It seems unique to me, it’s almost a world apart that he has created, and which somehow scares me. Three or four years ago, I called my agent and asked him why the producers didn’t take a character from a comic book and make it into a lower budget film that was a character study, and why not on a super- naughty? I thought I couldn’t do the Joker because it had already been done, so I was trying to find other characters and my agent wanted to set up a meeting with the folks at Warner Bros. I said I couldn’t go on those kind of dates… So I forgot about this project until I heard about this Joker solo movie idea that got me excited , which is the kind of feeling I want to have with a movie about a comic book character.
A mind-blowing preparation
As often with Joaquin Phoenix, the actor has carefully prepared his transformation. A reason that also pushed him to accept such a role. He has, in particular, lost a lot of weight to step into the garb of Gotham City’s demonic clown:
The first thing to do was lose weight. That’s how I started. Because it actually affects your psychology. You start going crazy when you lose so much weight in such a short time.
Then he passed several weeks of polishing the Joker’s laugh, a central element of the villain’s identity. A rather difficult detail to obtain, which allows you to create your own personality of the Joker:
I thought I needed to be able to do it on command, in front of someone else. It was very uncomfortable. It took me a very long time. I’ve watched videos of people with pathological laughter, a neurological disorder that causes people to laugh uncontrollably.
And unsurprisingly, Joaquin Phoenix created a totally iconic laugh at this new Joker, and most importantly, very different from others. Joker is what you can call an instant classic. As for Warner, she is currently working on joker 2.