Joaquin Phoenix has always been renowned as something of a Method actor, someone who’s willing to go that extra mile to find the best performance to suit their role. Remember a decade ago when he remained in character as a fictionalized version of himself every time he was spotted in public or gave an interview for months and had people believing that he’d retired from acting, decided to become a rapper and apparently lost his mind, all in the name of mockumentary I’m Still Here?
That’s the kind of dedication that made Phoenix the ideal person to play the title role in Todd Phillips’ Joker, which saw the 45 year-old once again throw himself into character, with his performance as Arthur Fleck instantly making him one of the frontrunners for virtually every Best Actor gong going this awards season.
A dark, twisted, R-rated psychological drama was surely the only way that you could convince a talent like Joaquin Phoenix to star in a comic book movie, and Joker will now be remembered in the history books as the highest-grossing R-rated film ever made after a box office run that sailed past a billion dollars globally.
Phoenix has spoken previously about the lengths he went to in order to get into the headspace of the Joker, and in a recent interview, he shed a little more light on the process of working with his director and revealed that a scene that he found to be one of the most important in terms of understanding the mindset of Arthur Fleck didn’t even make the final cut of the movie.
“We were shooting a scene, it was like the fourth take, and I said I don’t know what else I can do, that was all the ideas I have… I just decided to stop all of my actory stuff and just listen to the other actor, and to just be aware of the space that I was in, and we did this take and it felt really good, and he came out and said ‘That was a good take.’… He said ‘What was that?’, and I said, ‘Sincerity’. And he said, ‘Well, you should be sincere more often’. It was a scene that was ultimately cut out of the movie but it ended up being kind of the most important scene in the movie because it helped me find sincerity.”
Sincerity isn’t the kind of word you expect to be used when describing someone like the Joker, but it remains interesting to hear Phoenix explain how he gave up trying to ‘act’ his way through the scene and just reacted to the person opposite him. Hopefully this scene ends up on the home video release of Joker, because it would be fascinating to see him figure out the character during shooting.