Joaquin Phoenix is one of the most talented actors working in world cinema today. His transformative performances in films like Her and Inherent Vice are truly some of the best acting works of this decade. The man is very selective when it comes to choosing his projects and rarely ever acts in big studio movies (the last was probably Gladiator in 2000, a very different era of film). So, the fact that he agreed to play the iconic comic book character, Joker, in Todd Philips’ film of the same name already tells you that the film is probably going to be really special.
Phoenix has admitted that it wasn’t an easy decision for him to make, as comic book movies generally aren’t his cup of tea. In an interview with Total Film, Phoenix said:
“I think oftentimes, in these movies, we have these simplified, reductive archetypes, and that allows for the audience to be distant from the character, just like we would do in real life, where it’s easy to label somebody as evil, and therefore say, ‘Well, I’m not that.’”
However, it looks like Pheonix had a change of heart when he realised that Todd Phillips was planning to make a film that’s completely different from most comic book movies we’ve seen — one that is a deep and emotional character study.
“And yet we all are guilty. We all have sinned. And I thought that here was this film [Joker], and these characters, where it wouldn’t be easy for you as an audience. There are times where you’re going to feel yourself connected to him, and rooting for him, and times when you should be repulsed by him. And I like that idea of challenging the audience, and challenging myself to explore a character like that. It’s rare to explore characters like that in any movies, but specifically in the superhero genre.”
Director Todd Phillips — known for directing The Hangover trilogy — had this to say about Joaquin Phoenix’s casting:
“The goal was never to introduce Joaquin Phoenix into the comic book movie universe. The goal was to introduce comic book movies into the Joaquin Phoenix universe.”
As someone who’s both a fan of Joaquin Phoenix’s work in independent cinema as well as a complete and utter comic book geek, I can’t begin to express just how excited I am for Joker.
Joker will be laughing its way into Malaysian cinemas on 3 October 2019.