Joker Director Reveals Joaquin Phoenix Would Walk Off Set During Scenes

Anticipation for Joker continues to mount as we get closer to the film's release date. Now that it has screened at multiple film festivals and people have had the chance to see the movie, buzz around Joaquin Phoenix's performance could be an early indicator that he'll be in discussion for awards consideration come Oscar season. But the process was difficult for Phoenix, who had the daunting task of showing a man's descent into insanity and the tole he exacts on Gotham City for because of it.

Director Todd Phillips explained that Phoenix would sometime walk off the set during the middle of filming scenes for Joker, confusing his co-stars in the process.

“In the middle of the scene, he’ll just walk away and walk out,” Phillips said in an interview with the New York Times. “And the poor other actor thinks it’s them and it was never them — it was always him, and he just wasn’t feeling it.” And after taking a breather, he said, “we’ll take a walk and we’ll come back and we’ll do it.”

Co-star Robert De Niro added that Phoenix was very into the process while making Joker.

“Joaquin was very intense in what he was doing, as it should be, as he should be,” De Niro said. “There’s nothing to talk about, personally, on the side, ‘Let’s have coffee.’ Let’s just do the stuff.”

Phillips also explained that they wrote the movie specifically for Phoenix, and that there was never anyone else considered for the role — even the rumored Leonardo DiCaprio. So that meant if Phoenix didn't want to do it, they were in trouble.

“He was not keen on jumping into costume in any comic-book movie,” Phillips explained. “It’s not necessarily in his five-year plan — although I don’t think he has one.”

“I asked him to come over and audition me for it,” Phoenix said. “It wasn’t an easy decision, but he kept saying, ‘Let’s just be bold. Let’s do something.’”

Phillips added, “I kept waiting for him to just say, ‘Ok, I’m in,’ And he never did that.” Phoenix explained, “You just never get a yes. All you get is more questions.”

The director recently explained at the Toronto International Film Festival that Joker would not be a part of DC's shared movie universe.

"It's not really connected to that [DC Movie] Universe," Phillips said during a Q&A after the movie. "And it was really intentionally not. I mean the original idea when I went to [Warner Bros.] with the idea was not just about one movie, but about a label - sort of a side label to DC, where you can do these kind of character study, low-rent, low-budget movies, where you get a filmmaker to come in and do some deep dive into a character. So it was never meant to connect, so I don't see it connecting to anything in the future. I think this is just this movie, you know?"

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So don't expect to see Joker crossover with Batman anytime soon...

Joker premieres in theaters on October 4th.