One of the weirder moments in Joker sees Joaquin Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck at one point clear out the contents of his refrigerator before crawling in it. It’s a creepy scene that’s frankly quite baffling, yet Phoenix’s performance keeps our eyes glued to the screen in genuine awe. Unsurprisingly, this scene wasn’t originally part of Todd Phillips’ and Scott Silver’s script, rather an improvisation by Phoenix that nobody on the crew was aware of until they saw it unfold once the camera started rolling.
In an interview with IndieWire, cinematographer Lawrence Sher discusses shooting the scene and how it completely mesmerized everybody on set that day:
“While some scenes were very planned out, like when he’s in the phonebooth or walking up the stairs, others had no plan at all. When he climbed in the refrigerator, we had no idea he was going to do that. We set up two camera positions, and Joaquin just thought about what he would do if he was a massive insomniac. Again, we lit it so he could go anywhere, and the first and only time he did it, we were mesmerized. I remember thinking, ‘What is he doing? Did he just crawl in the fridge?’ It was as fun and weird for us to watch it, too.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about Joaquin Phoenix’s improvisations on the set of Joker. Previously, Todd Phillips talked about how the poetic bathroom scene dance in the film was initially supposed to be something else entirely.
In the IndieWire interview, Lawrence Sher talks a little bit about the scene.
“Joaquin created that whole dance and, after the success of that scene, we started creating more moments like that. Like when he’s playing with the gun and fires it into the wall. All we knew was that he’d fire the gun into the wall at some point, but we never planned when or knew that he’d stand and have that conversation with himself and begin dancing. We just had two cameras in there and let it happen, which became a major part of how we did a lot of things.”
Joker is currently playing in Malaysian cinemas.