Joker Cinematographer Worried Joaquin Phoenix Would Go Too Far Into Character

It wasn't exactly a surprise that Joker was a big win for Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Comics, but becoming a billion dollar hit and dominating the awards season has been a pleasant byproduct of that success. Many people are praising star Joaquin Phoenix for his portrayal of Arthur Fleck, the struggling standup comedian who descends into madness after his personal and professional lives fall apart. But Phoenix has also earned some criticism for his actions behind the scenes, with a set video showing him lash out at some of the crew on set while he attempts to maintain character.

Even Joker cinematographer Lawrence Sher was asked if he was concerned by Phoenix's portrayal while on set for the production, and he provided a candid response while recalling Heath Ledger.

"Nobody has ever asked me that, but a little bit," Sher explained to NME. "I did, I thought because of Heath and what happened before the release of the movie, yeah. It was like a tiny bit in my head just being concerned for when people take something on so deeply, to be a character that has madness inside of them how can it affect them? So a little bit of that."

Sher made it clear that he was more worried about Phoenix's physical wellbeing given the amount of weight he lost, saying he was constantly looking out for him.

"No, outside of just feeling like I just wanted to give him a sandwich, because he had lost so much weight," Sher said. "I was a little concerned for his health."

Director Todd Phillips explained that he wrote the movie with Phoenix in mind, making it clear that the actor was always his first choice for the role of Joker. But convincing him to join a comic book movie required some work.


“He liked the spirit of what the movie was, a sort of anti-comic book film or whatever,” Phillips told Deadline. “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.”

Joker is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD. The movie is also up for awards such as Best Picture and Best Actor at the Academy Awards taking place this weekend.