As a standalone work that exists independently from any cinematic universe, Todd Phillips’ Joker isn’t under the same obligations as your average DC adaptation to adhere to a larger multi-movie continuity, meaning that the team can afford to be a little more spontaneous with their creative decisions.
Sure enough, Zazie Beetz has recalled a very on-the-fly approach to the production that sounds more akin to the practices of indie cinema than major franchise fare. Speaking at the Sundance Film Festival, the star of the newly premiered Wounds told MTV News that the script for Joker was being continuously rewritten during shooting.
“We rewrote the whole thing while we were shooting it,” she said. “Literally, we would go into Todd [Phillips]’ trailer and then write the scene for the night and then do it.”
In response, Beetz’s Wounds co-star Armie Hammer joked that “the writer of that script is going to be so pissed” to hear her say this, prompting the actress to clarify that “He was there, too, he was helping out.” Indeed, one of the feature’s two credited cowriters is the film’s own director Todd Phillips, and according to Beetz, the Hangover helmsman was able to keep a handle on this loose approach.
“During hair and make-up, we’d memorize those lines and then do them, and then we’d reshoot that three weeks later. We had to do everything then because Joaquin [Phoenix] had lost so much weight that we couldn’t do reshoots later on so we were figuring it out,” she explained. “But Todd’s quick at getting stuff done so we always had extra time. Which was great.”
Such last-minute changes are always going to be a little risky, but when the majority of major comic book movies are such heavily regulated works, it’ll be interesting to see what sort of results this more impulsive method yields.
In any case, while Phillips and his team still have a good few months left to make adjustments, reports so far have been all praise for the script, not to mention Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as the Clown Prince of Crime. We’ll find out if Joker can deliver on this early buzz when the film hits theaters on October 4th, 2019.