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Between the star-studded cast and a plot that sounds more like a dark character study than your average superhero adventure, director Todd Phillips’ take on the iconic villain is one of the more highly anticipated movies of 2019. Here’s a look at the untold truth of Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker.
As revealed by cast member Zazie Beetz, the movie was rewritten as it was filmed. During an interview with MTV, Beetz went into detail about the filming process:
The frequent rewrites and reshoots suggest a much more improvisational approach than most comic book movie directors take, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing it implies that the final product will be a more collaborative work incorporating ideas from the cast into the director’s vision.
Although Phillips’ approach is unusual, it isn’t without precedent. Iron Man, for instance, was also written and further developed as it was filmed. According to Jeff Bridges, who played antagonist Obadiah Stane, the entire project was based around an outline. Bridges and Robert Downey Jr. would improvise their way through scenes under the guidance of director Jon Favreau in their trailers while the crew waited on the set.
If Iron Man was shot in such a loose manner and still turned out to be the smash hit that launched the MCU, there’s definitely hope for Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker.
In a rather unexpected move, Warner Bros. brought on Todd Phillips as director, producer, and co-writer for the film. Although Phillips is a veteran filmmaker, he’s best known for raunchy comedies such as the Hangover trilogy, so it will be interesting to see how he fares creating a much darker and more serious film. The studio has promised Phoenix’s Joker will be a gritty low-budget character study quite a departure from the light-hearted slapstick comedies he’s worked on before.
The closest that Phillips has come to working on this type of film before was when he wrote, produced, and directed 2016’s War Dogs. Although that movie was an action comedy that touched on some darker elements of human nature, it’s already clear from the few glimpses we’ve had of Phoenix as the Joker that this new project is going deeper and darker than any of Phillips’ earlier features.
Joaquin Phoenix was a pretty major casting coup for Joker, but he isn’t the only impressive name going before the cameras for the film. An equally unexpected addition: Robert De Niro, who’s portraying a talk-show host who plays a role in setting Joker down the path that turns him into the sociopathic clown we all know and love to hate. One of the reasons this role may have appealed to De Niro is because the script is reminiscent of a movie he previously starred in, The King of Comedy.
In that film, De Niro played a mentally unhinged and wildly unsuccessful comedian who kidnaps a talk show host in order to get his “big break.” This sounds eerily similar to the premise of the Joker origin movie, only Phoenix will be playing the deranged aspiring comic and De Niro may be the one getting kidnapped this time. Marc Maron has also joined the cast as a talent agent who presumably works alongside De Niro’s character, and Zazie Beetz has also joined the cast as a single mother who catches the Joker’s eye. Keep watching the video to see the rest of the untold truth of Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker movie!
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A changing script | 0:17
A surprising director | 1:21
Heavy hitters | 2:17
Paparazzi problems | 3:13
Which Joker will this be? | 3:56
A frightened Phoenix | 4:56
Undefinable | 5:46
Making it up | 6:52
Urine big trouble | 7:36
Not your average superhero movie | 8:23
Killer inspiration | 9:09
No laughing matter | 10:21