This fall, fans will see a different side of the Joker when Joaquin Phoenix steps into the role. But there was a point when Phoenix wasn’t quite so sure if he would take on the Clown Prince of Crime.
“It took me a while (to commit),” Phoenix explained during an interview with Total Film. “Now, when I look back, I don’t understand why. There was a lot of fear, yeah. But I always say there’s motivating fear and debilitating fear. There’s the fear where you cannot make a f***ing step, and there’s the kind where it’s like, ‘OK, what do we do? That’s not good enough.’ And you’re digging deeper and deeper. I love that kind of fear. It guides us, makes us work harder.”
Phoenix had previously turned down roles in films like Doctor Strange and Hulk. He also explained that his hesitation came from his disinterest in the sometimes simplistic superhero story beats.
“I think often times, 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.’”
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Phoenix also spoke about director Todd Phillips won him over.
“And yet we all are guilty,” noted Phoenix. “We all have sinned. And I thought that here was this film, 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.”
Joker arrives in theaters on October 4.
What do you think about Phoenix’s doubts before taking on the Joker? Let us know in the comments below!
Recommended Reading: The Joker: A Visual History of the Prince of Crime