After months of whispering, news broke a couple of days ago that Joaquin Phoenix has officially signed on to play the main character in a “Joker Origin Film” that will be directed by Todd Phillips (THE HANGOVER).
Many fans assumed that we were going to get a typical comic book origin movie with a villain — The Joker in this case — rather than a hero. In other words, the expectation is that this film is going to be The Joker’s BATMAN BEGINS, if you will. In response, I told these concerned fans (in this BOF op-ed) that this “Joker Origin Film” will likely be something completely different from what think or are expecting.
I know believe Mr. Phoenix agrees with me.
Via an interview with COLLIDER.COM, Joaquin Phoenix talks a bit about this project, why he agreed to take the role, and what the filmmaker is going for. Here’s a few blurbs…
I take a lot of time and consideration when making decisions and what I’m gonna work on always. So, in some ways, the process, which is obviously reading a script and meeting a filmmaker and then continuing to have meetings and discussions with Todd [Phillips]. I think he’s very impressive and he seems to have a very interesting understanding of this world and what he’s trying to say. And so there is something very appealing about that and working with him on this particular project. It feels unique, it is its own world in some ways, and maybe, mostly, it scares the f*cking shit out of me or something. It might as well be the thing that scares you the most.
Three or four years ago, I called my agent and said ‘Why don’t they want to take one of these characters and just make a lower budget film about it, a movie but a character study, and why not take one of the villains?’ And I thought, ‘You can’t do the Joker, because, you know, it’s just you can’t do that character, it’s just been done.’ So I was trying to think of other characters, and he said ‘I’ll set up a general meeting with Warner Bros.’ And I said ‘I’m not gonna go, I can’t go to a general meeting.’ So I completely forgot about it, and so then I heard about this idea, I was like, ‘Oh that’s so exciting, that’s the kind of experience I wanted to have, with a movie based on a comic character.’ I felt like you could get something on screen.
As I said in my op-ed (and in an upcoming BOF Vlog), Phoenix is very careful and selective about the roles he takes. So there must be something different and intriguing for him to sign on to play “The Joker.” Here’s a bit more — about what kind of movie this is going to be…
I wouldn’t quite classify this as like any genre. I wouldn’t say it’s a superhero movie, or a studio movie or a … It feels unique, and I think more then anything, and probably the most important thing, is Todd seems very passionate about it and very giving, and so that’s exciting. I think, underneath the excitement of these films, and the size of them, there are these incredible characters that are dealing with real life struggles. And sometimes that is uncovered and exposed, and sometimes it isn’t, and so I always felt, like, there were characters in comics that were really interesting and deserve the opportunity to be kind of studied. And so I think that’s what Todd sees appealing about this idea.
Look, I don’t know if I’m going to end up liking this film. Personally, I like it when The Joker just “is” and there’s no clear backstory or origin. However, I like what I’m hearing about this film and I’m willing to give it a chance and judge it on its own merits when it’s released and I see it.
One last thing, this film is not going to be tied to Matt Reeves’ solo Batman film and it isn’t going to help set up that Bat-Universe. Matt Reeves will set up his Bat-Universe in his Batman movie.
Head on over the COLLIDER.COM via the links provided above and below for the entire article. – Bill “Jett” Ramey