Joaquin Phoenix Was Very Difficult To Work With On Joker Set


After his Golden Globes win, Joker star Joaquin Phoenix is in prime position for that Best Actor Oscar in a month’s time. During his (heavily censored) speech though, he apologized to director Todd Phillips for being “such a pain in the ass” and that he “cannot believe you put up with me.”

Of course, since the film’s release, we’ve heard multiple stories about how committed Phoenix was to the role of Arthur Fleck, losing a scary amount of weight and trying his best to stay in the character’s twisted mindset. And now, in an article about the Academy Awards shortlist for Best Hair & MakeupNextBestPicture has revealed that he was also a nightmare for the makeup department.

“One of the presentation’s major focal points was the difficulty of working with Phoenix. He initially wanted to do his own makeup and hair himself, and the film’s makeup team had to work out a compromise with him. Additionally, he apparently didn’t like being touched frequently. He lost 50 pounds for the film and was said to be “hungry” often. As such, he would walk out in the middle of hair dying jobs and would disappear on set in between takes, so the crew had a hard time finding him for touch-ups. The process of maintaining continuity was so arduous that the person in charge of keeping continuity actually quit. The team would bribe him with crackers to get him to keep still (since he could eat little else).”

In my experience with film and TV cosmetics artists, the very last thing they ever want to hear is that an actor wants to do their own makeup. Hair and makeup people are largely unsung heroes of the industry, with their contributions usually invisible if they’re doing a good job. Having to deal with Phoenix attempting to do his own Joker makeup, as well as his constant disappearing acts sounds like a headache, especially when you know you’re the expendable one if your relationship with him really goes south. However, I do love the image of a hungry Phoenix being tempted back into the make-up trailer with the promise of crackers.

As a side note, the article also reveals that:

“There was shading used to make him look even more emaciated, and some CGI to touch up his bloody smile at the end of the film.”

So, an interesting peek behind the scenes of the movie. Aside from its awards buzz, Joker lands on Blu-ray today, so expect more insights as to how Phoenix so completely became Arthur Fleck as fans get their hands on it.

About the author

David James

David James

London-based writer about everything and anything. Willing to crawl over rusty nails to write about Metal Gear Solid or Resident Evil.