Joker Director Says Joaquin Phoenix Was The Only Actor They Wanted


When Joker was first announced to be in the works, there were a few names that were rumored to be playing the Clown Prince of Crime. Due to Martin Scorsese being attached to produce, it was thought that Leonardo DiCaprio might be the first choice for the role. Of course, the eponymous villain ended up being played by Joaquin Phoenix, but was DiCaprio the original pick for the part?

Not according to director Todd Phillips he wasn’t. The filmmaker revealed to The New York Times that the movie’s script was written with Phoenix in mind, but it was an uphill battle to get the famously selective star to sign up for a DC flick.

“We wrote the movie for Joaquin… He was not keen on jumping into costume in any comic-book movie. I kept waiting for him to just say, ‘O.K., I’m in,’ And he never did that. You just never get a yes. All you get is more questions.”

In the end, however, it seems Phoenix was won over by Phillips’ commitment to making something “bold” and unlike mainstream comic book movies.

“I asked him to come over and audition me for it. It wasn’t an easy decision, but he kept saying, ‘Let’s just be bold. Let’s do something.’”

But even once Phoenix had agreed to do the project, the duo still had conflicting visions for the portrayal of the character. For instance, Phoenix was initially set on gaining weight for the part as he believed his Joker should be heavy-set. Phillips, on the other hand, wanted him to be very thin. The star eventually agreed with the director and ended up losing 52 pounds for the movie.

All this pre-production toing-and-froing seems to have paid off in the end, as Joker has been critically acclaimed so far, earning itself the coveted Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival. What’s more, it’s on target for a big haul at the box office and could result in Phoenix getting an Oscar nod for his performance. I guess Todd Phillips will have the last laugh on this one.