Joker Director Explains How One Iconic Scene Received Major Changes

It's one of the most haunting scenes in Todd Phillips' Joker. After having just committed his first murders, Arthur Fleck, (Joaquin Phoenix) flees into a dingy, dirty bathroom and begins to dance, alone and to presumably silence though the scene does swell with the sounds of Hildur Gudnadottir's score for viewers. It's a disturbing, but oddly graceful sequence, one that is absolutely defining of not just the character but the film on the whole. And it turns out, it's not even remotely close to what was originally written for that pivotal moment.

In a video from screenplay analysis site, Screenplayed (via CBR), Phillips reveals that the scene that made it to screen was completely off-script while the scripted version had an almost remorseful Arthur hiding his gun and trying to wash away his makeup. However, Phillips notes that he figured out that the scene as written really didn't fit the character.

“In the script, Arthur was to come into the bathroom, hide his gun, wash off his makeup, staring at himself in the mirror and saying, ‘What have I done?'” Phillips said. “When we got to the set on the day, Joaquin and I stood around and this didn’t seem very much like Arthur. Why would Arthur care to hide his gun? We tossed around a million ways to just do something different.”

And that's where the score came in.

“It was an hour into it, and I said, ‘Hey I got this music from Hildur Gudnadottir, our composer,’ and I wanted to play Joaquin this piece of music. He just started to dance to this music. It was just me and him alone in the bathroom. There was 250 people on the crew waiting outside. He just starts doing this dance and we looked at each other and knew it was the scene. It made sense to us. When I first met Joaquin, I told him Arthur is one of those people who has music in him. Music and dance became a theme in the film. This is the second time we see him dancing and it’s a little bit of Joker coming out.”

Despite initial controversy and concern about the film, Joker has proven to be a box office success for Warner Bros. The film has already beaten some box office records and is tracking to win the box office for a second week. Joker is projected to gross at least $50 million domestically this weekend.


Joker is now in theaters. Other upcoming DC Films movies include Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) on February 7, 2020, Wonder Woman 1984 on June 5, 2020, The Batman on June 25, 2021, The Suicide Squad on August 6, 2021, and Aquaman 2 on December 16, 2022.

What do you think about the difference between the scripted bathroom scene and the one that made it to screen? Let us know in the comments below.