Joaquin Phoenix says he isn’t worried about fan expectations for her performance as the Clown Prince of Crime in the Joker movie. The actor has further emphasized that he isn’t approaching Joker as a superhero comic book film, but rather as a compelling study of a character who just happens to be an iconic Batman villain.
While he’s been approached for comic book film roles in the past, Phoenix has typically steered clear of franchise movies to date and instead stuck with primarily offbeat and/or director-driven projects (see his role in next month’s quirky western The Sisters Brothers, for example). As such, most everyone was surprised when Phoenix was reported to be circling Joker, an origin movie for the titular supervillain that Todd Phillips (The Hangover trilogy, War Dogs) is directing and cowriting. The Oscar-nominee has officially signed on for the project since then and will be joined by a big-name ensemble that already includes Robert De Niro, Deadpool 2‘s Zazie Beetz, and GLOW‘s Marc Maron in prominent roles.
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In an interview with IndieWire to promote The Sisters Brothers, Phoenix was (naturally) asked about Joker and how he’s handling the expectations that come with playing a comic book villain that was previously brought to life in live-action by names like Jack Nicholson, Jared Leto, and Heath Ledger in an Oscar-winning turn. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the actor is far from concerned with what fans think about him taking on the Joker role to begin with:
“I could care less. I don’t really think that much about what people think. Who cares, who cares? My approach to every movie is the same. What I’m interested in is the filmmaker and the idea of the character.”
All things considered, Phoenix’s response in this interview is in keeping with his previous comments about Joker. By his own admittance, the actor has wanted to make a relatively lower-budgeted comic book movie like Joker for years, but always envisioned it as being closer to a character study along the lines of Lynne Ramsay’s grimly meditative You Were Never Really Here (which hit theaters earlier this year, with Phoenix starring), rather than a colorful supervillain feature. In other words: Phoenix has clearly never been particularly concerned about the expectations that fans have for any film adaptation of a comic book character (be it Joker or a comparatively obscure villain), so it would arguably be odd for him to start worrying about that now.
Then again, Joker doesn’t have to deal with the same kind of expectations that other upcoming DC movies are facing, anyway. Since the film isn’t part of the Justice League continuity that started with Man of Steel in 2013, there’s greater room for Phoenix and Phillips to experiment and push the boundaries of the comic book movie genre through their film, without having to be concerned about how its reception could impact other DC adaptations in the future. That’s all the more reason for Phoenix especially to “not care” about what people think – and instead, focus on delivering a Joker performance that he feels is worthwhile and satisfying, standing on its own.
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