Joker Director Reveals How Much Weight Joaquin Phoenix Lost For The Role

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Director Todd Phillips’ Joker film is gearing up for release, and the studio is being more careful than ever to stress how different this gritty origin movie about the Clown Prince of Crime is going to be from traditional superhero fare. Case in point: while most actors talk about how much muscle they had to gain to portray a superhero or villain, Phillips revealed in an interview for LA Times that actor Joaquin Phoenix, who plays the titular role in the movie, lost 52 pounds before production began.

This is the first time an actor has become dramatically leaner to play the role of the Joker. Jack Nicholson retained his heavy build while portraying the character in Tim Burton’s Batman and Heath Ledger used his naturally slim and tall build to good effect as The Dark Knight‘s Mr. J. Jared Leto, meanwhile, underwent the most significant transformation for Suicide Squad, playing a Joker who had a lean but muscular build, complete with a six pack of abs.

It seems that Phoenix’s Joker will be the runt of the litter, then, at least physically speaking. But then again, that’s unsurprising. After all,  Joker is an original movie, taking viewers on a journey alongside Arthur Fleck, a down-on-his-luck stand up comedian who ekes out a poor income as a clown standing outside shops waving signs at people passing by. It would hardly be believable to have such a character sporting bulging muscles or even the slim yet sinewy build of Ledger’s Joker.

The supervillain flick is the next step in Warner Bros.’ continued efforts to set their comic book films apart from the MCU by focusing on more serious and some would say, more grown-up fare. Casting critically acclaimed and notoriously picky actor Phoenix in the main role was a big step towards this goal, and the performer is clearly taking his role very seriously. So much so that he may even find himself with an Oscar come the next Academy Awards.

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