Most comic book movies are never seriously considered for acting, writing, and directing awards. If superhero movies do win prestigious awards, it’s usually for sound editing, film editing, or special effects. However, after Joker won the Golden Lion award at its Venice Film Festival premiere, the film has broken new ground for the genre. Now, Warner Bros. is launching a serious Oscar campaign, pushing for Joker in the Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Picture categories. And, like many classic films, some of the movie’s best scenes were the result of a close working relationship between the director and leading actor.
Speaking recently with the Santa Barbara International Film Festival Cinema Society (SBIFF), Phillips explained how Phoenix improvised two of the movie’s most memorable scenes. The movie’s cinematographer previously explained that the scene where Fleck climbs inside a refrigerator was improvised on the spot by Phoenix after a day on set. Now, Phillips gives more insight into the actor’s improvisational approach to filming Joker. In addition to the famous refrigerator scene, Phoenix also improvised another important character moment. After following a neighbor into her apartment, Fleck laughs hysterically in a living room, another scene that wasn’t in the script. In the video below, the comments begin at about 13:15.
So, we would finish our days early sometimes, and we started doing this thing Joaquin and I, we called it…’A study of insomnia.’It was our own fun little thing…we would do these things, the fridge is one of those, it wasn’t in the script, it was something that Joaquin just did…There were two or three other [scenes] we shot, one that is amazing in a bathtub, but I don’t think we could actually include it in an R-rated movie. And it’s not because it was pornographic, it was just insane.
That’s all the description of the “insane” bathtub deleted scene that Phillips provided during the Q&A. Based on his brief description, it’s possible it contained either nudity or extremely explicit language. Even R-rated movies have hard limits. Unfortunately for fans of Joker, Phillips has been clear about his attitude toward deleted scenes: he doesn’t do them. That means fans will likely never see deleted scenes from Joker, no matter how insane they might be. Ultimately, any improvised deleted scenes from Joker will probably remain on the cutting room floor.
Even so, the director’s comments are a testament to the unique movie that he created with Phoenix. By taking an unusual, low-budget approach to the superhero genre, the duo have created something truly original (not to mention the most profitable superhero movie of all time). Whether the film wins any Academy Awards or not, superhero movie fans won’t be forgetting it for a long time to come.
Next: Is Thomas Wayne Really Arthur Fleck’s Father?
Timothy Beck Werth