Joaquin Phoenix Explains How Hard it Was to Nail the Joker Laugh

Rave reviews are still flying in for Joker as the film is still a couple of weeks away from release. One thing that the reviews seem to mention a lot so far is how haunting that new version of the villain's iconic laugh can be in the movie. Joaquin Phoenix sat down with's Jim Viscardi for an interview on the press tour for the film. (Check out footage from the interview up top!) The question of how much of his laugh comes from his own mannerisms and which one belongs firmly to Arthur popped up.

Joker's laugh has always been a daunting proposition as so many performances of the character have been defined by that cackle. Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger Jared Leto, Cesar Romero, and Mark Hamill to name a few. Each one put their own unique spin on that piercing sound. But, how would Phoenix manage to separate himself? It turns out that he turned to some medical inspiration.

CB: You’ve told the story of how the laugh came to be. But, was there ever a point where you feel you nailed it? And how much would you say of it is partially your laugh versus the one you created for Arthur?

“I don’t know that there was ever a point. I think from take to take, there were times that it felt genuine and good and there were times it didn’t. There were some takes where I would stop halfway through because I would say, ’It’s not working’ and it was actually working fine,” Phoenix said.

He continued, “I don’t know how much is my laugh. It was really based on videos that I saw of people that have these laughing fits that are uncontrollable. That really was my model.”

Phoenix has talked about developing this distinct laugh before in interviews, and the prospect of pouring through these recordings sounds very eerie. This is proof of how much he has sunk himself into the role. Arthur feels more like a real person, albeit one with a slippery grasp on his own backstory, than in some of the other entries in animation or live-action.


That work looks like it is going to be rewarded because there are reports forecasting Joker's October box office dominance. The movie has been divisive from the word go as some people questioned whether the world needed a dark reimagining of the character. A strong performance at the Venice Film Festival that saw Joker take home the top prize was enough to quiet some of that.

Sony's Venom currently holds the top spot in October opening weekend history at the box office. The Marvel anti-hero might be in trouble though, as The Hollywood Reporter has Joker possibly raking in a cool $82 million opening weekend. Even lower projections from NRG have the film sitting around $77 million for that weekend. That kind of production could see DC laughing all the way to the bank.