Joker Star Joaquin Phoenix Wins Best Actor at Golden Globes

Joker star Joaquin Phoenix has been named Best Actor at the 77th Golden Globe Awards, giving the six-time nominee his second Golden Globe following a 2006 win for his performance as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line. Phoenix’s portrayal of street clown and failed stand up comedian Arthur Fleck, a self-described mentally ill loner, beat out competitors Christian Bale (Ken Miles, Ford v Ferrari), Antonio Banderas (Salvador Mallo, Pain and Glory), Adam Driver (Charlie, Marriage Story) and Jonathan Pryce (Pope Francis, The Two Popes). Phoenix was last nominated at the Golden Globes in 2015 for his role as private investigator Larry “Doc” Sportello in Inherent Vice, a prize he lost to former Batman Michael Keaton for his leading role in Birdman.

Phoenix lost more than 50 pounds for his role as malnourished Gothamite Arthur, a transformation that startled Phoenix's co-star Glenn Fleshler. “When I laid eyes on him at a table read, he’d lost 50 pounds. He was like a shell of himself,” Fleshler said in a making-of featurette included in the Joker home release special features. “He was fully immersing himself in the role.”

Director and co-writer Todd Phillips wrote Joker for Phoenix, who had to be swayed to sign on for his first comic book-inspired movie.

“Joaquin certainly had a ton of questions, and I think he also had the same thing I had, which is this fear — this is a big thing to take on. This isn’t going to be a small, little anonymous film,” Phillips says in Joker: Vision & Fury. “The Joker’s been interpreted and done so many times over the years, and I think there hasn’t been a bad one yet. So there’s a certain fear.”

Phillips wanted to tap into Phoenix’s “unpredictability,” noting the actor is “playing jazz while other people are doing math. He’s just doing his own thing. And I feel like that’s very much what we saw the character of Arthur-slash-Joker as. I thought, ‘Boy, if we get him, we can really do something special.’”

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Added Phoenix, “For me, when I work with a director, I just want somebody that has a singular vision and a really unique take on the material. And it was clear from Todd’s screenplay that he had a real sensitivity to the challenges that Arthur is going through. He felt things in a way that I hadn’t expected.”

Joker is available to own on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray starting Jan. 7.