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Joaquin Phoenix Never Actually Said Yes To Being In Joker

In a new interview, Joker director Todd Phillips has revealed Joaquin Phoenix never actually said 'yes' to the title role.


By all accounts, Joker is a cinematic anomaly.

It’s a standalone, R-rated comic book movie that thrusts Batman’s greatest ever foe into the spotlight for a bleak, nihilistic tale the likes of which we’ve never seen before – not in this current era of superhero films, at least. Warner Bros. and director Todd Phillips also defied all expectations by turning a modest spinoff budgeted at $75 million into a billion-dollar behemoth.

But early on in the film’s development, before Joaquin Phoenix had even accepted the role, Phillips approached the Inherent Vice star about the possibility of headlining a villain-centric spinoff. Turns out Phoenix never really said ‘yes’; he simply showed up for a wardrobe fitting. And the rest is history.

It was a pursuit to get him because initially, it feels like, ‘ugh, comic book movie.’ Just the idea of it is something he wasn’t so keen on pursuing, and even when I would explain to him it’s not that, it kind of says that, but really we’re doing this other thing, there was a little resistance. But the more I got to know him, the more I hung out with him, and we spent a lot of time talking about what the movie will look and feel like, and then one day he magically showed up. He never said yes. He just one day showed up to a wardrobe fitting. … It was an incredible partnership.

Such was the runaway success of Joker that Warner Bros.’ top brass are seemingly ready to fast-track a number of standalone movies for Batman’s greatest villains, beginning with a Joker-esque tale for Harvey Dent – better known to you, I, and the people of Gotham City as Two-Face.

There’s still Birds of Prey, The Suicide Squad, The Batman and Wonder Woman 1984 to contend with, too, so we imagine it’ll be some time yet before WB carves out room for future Joker movies and films of the same ilk.

After conquering the global box office and raking in a grand total of $1.05 billion, Todd Phillips’ Joker movie will head to Blu-ray on January 7th (two weeks after its premiere on digital platforms, as is standard practice). And yes, it seems Phillips and Phoenix will be getting the gang back together for a sequel in due time.

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Michael Briers