Joaquin Phoenix is one of the most transformative actors working in cinema today. He often gets lost in a role to such a degree that the real-life actor completely disappears, leaving behind only the character to walk on set. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to call him a younger version of Daniel Day-Lewis. A lot of times, though, this type of method acting can be emotionally and mentally draining for an actor. That does appear to be the case with Joaquin Phoenix and Joker as well.
In an interview with ET Canada, Phoenix was asked how he moulded his character. The three-time Oscar nominee had this to say:
“The first thing was the weight loss, that’s really what I started with. As it turns out, that impacts your psychology, and you really start to go mad when you lose that much weight in that amount of time. There’s also a book about political assassins that I thought was interesting, and breaks down the different types of personalities that do those sorts of things [I do in the film].”
However, before people get too crazy in the comment section with their rumours and speculation, this does not automatically mean that Joaquin Phoenix is suffering, having a bad time or has depression. I say this only because when Heath Ledger passed away, people immediately started speculating that it’s because he was so intuned with his character, that it caused him to have insomnia and then overdose on drugs. This has been debunked by Ledger’s own sister who said that the actor who played Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight was having the time of his life as the character.
Anyway, back to Joaquin Phoenix. The actor also proceeded to say that he wanted the freedom to create a character with a mental state so unique, real-world psychiatrists wouldn’t be able to identify the type of person Joker was.
“I wanted the freedom to create something that wasn’t identifiable. This is a fictional character, and I didn’t want a psychiatrist to be able to identify the kind of person he was. We were getting into medication and what issues he might have, but [I thought] let’s step away from that. We want to have the room to create what we want. Throughout the course of shooting, every day felt like we were discovering new aspects of the character and shades of his personality, up until the very last day.”
Official synopsis of Joker:
Director Todd Phillips Joker centres around the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone fictional story not seen before on the big screen. Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck, who is indelibly portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, is of a man struggling to find his way in Gotham’s fractured society. A clown-for-hire by day, he aspires to be a stand-up comic at night…but finds the joke always seems to be on him. Caught in a cyclical existence between apathy and cruelty, Arthur makes one bad decision that brings about a chain reaction of escalating events in this gritty character study.
Joker is set to hit Malaysian cinemas on 3 October 2019.