There’s a new Joker in town, and this one could be the most serious yet. The latest actor to play the ICONIC DC villain on the big screen is Joaquin Phoenix, who has revealed that he was terrified by his own take on the infamous clown. Joker is a brand new story, separate from the DC Extended Universe, that’s written and directed by Todd Phillips (Hangover trilogy, War Dogs). Joker centres on the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone story not seen before on the big screen. Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck (Phoenix), who is ignored by the world, is not only a close study of a character, but also works as a broader cautionary tale. A clown-for-hire by day, he strives to be a stand-up comic at night but finds that the joke always seems to be on him. Arthur, who devotes himself to caring for his fragile mother, seeks out every father figure he’s never had, from wealthy businessman Thomas Wayne to TV host Murray Franklin. Caught in a cynical existence teetering on the precipice of reality and madness, one bad decision brings about a chain reaction of escalating, ultimately deadly, events.
Most actors would be intimidated at the prospect of playing such an iconic character but Phoenix only sees it as a challenge. Phoenix says, “It feels unique, it is its own world in some ways, and maybe, mostly, it scares the f*****g sh** out of me or something. It might as well be the thing that scares you the most.” He has previously revealed he had been looking to play a comic- book villain for years, but had not found the right project. After several meetings with Phillips, he decided the director was the right person to work with on a supervillain film. Phillips and co-writer Scott Silver (The Fighter) have created a “gritty character study of a man disregarded by society”. It promises to be one of the darkest takes on the comic-book villain ever. The film is inspired by a string of Martin Scorsese classics, including Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and The King Of Comedy.
The main cast is rounded out by Robert De Niro, who plays Franklin; Fleck’s love interest, Zazie Beetz (Deadpool 2); and Frances Conroy (TV’s American Horror Story, Hulu’s Castle Rock). Phillips’ choice of composer is also very telling. The woman behind the music is Hildur Guðnadóttir, who’s shown with the Chernobyl TV series that she is capable
of creating haunting and memorable scores. Oscar-winning costume designer Mark Bridges (Phantom Thread, The Artist) is also on board, and the film is being co-produced by actor Bradley Cooper and Emma Tillinger Koskoff. There’s only one way to find out how it’s all going to play out, and that’s to catch it at Picturehouse Cinemas in October.