Joker Director Reveals How He Convinced Joaquin Phoenix to Make a Comic Book Movie

Todd Phillips really knocked it out of the park with Joker as the film continues to stack awards. The director told Deadline this week about his process of recruiting Joaquin Phoenix onto the project. The actor doesn’t seem too keen on the comic book thing, but with a little convincing he was game to chase their shared vision. The result was an absolute smash for Warner Bros. and an awards show spectacle as the world waits to see if Joker can capture Best Picture. Still, the groundwork had to be laid down in advance if there was ever going to be the success people had wanted from the project.

He liked the spirit of what the movie was, a sort of anti-comic book film or whatever,” Phillips began. “However you wanted to classify it. He only responded to the spirit, but he also wasn’t somebody who ever thought that he would be in a comic book film. I think, I don’t want to say for sure. I’m sure he’s turned down comic book films in the past. So, that was the biggest hurdle.”

“He read the script, he got it. He also got that it wasn’t a straight-up comic book movie, but it’s the same point,” he added. “It was still called Joker. It still says DC presents at some point in it, you know, so that was I think the biggest hurdle and we talked a lot about that. We had these meetings for months. And before he agreed to do it, I would say three or four months and a lot of questions. I think some of it was him just feeling me out, of course, and talked about the vibe and the tone. ‘What’s it going to look like and how do I work? What’s the approach?’ It was a lot, but it was great and it was really like prepping away. It really helped us down the road and I know.”

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Phillips also talked about how much the wardrobe and scenery helped Phoenix as he brought Arthur Fleck to life. The process is very involved.

“I think certain actors, it affects them a lot and others it doesn’t,” Phillips answered. “I would say with Joaquin and a lot of actors I work with they get really affected by their wardrobe and with Joaquin as fas as like the garbage being piled on the streets and all that stuff. I think you can’t help but feel it, but I know with him it was much more wardrobe based than necessarily the production design. And you know, some of the production design, to be fair, is we don’t do a lot of CGI in this movie, but there is a certain amount of world-building we did.”

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