Warner Bros. has confirmed that Joaquin Phoenix will portray the Joker in an upcoming standalone feature focusing on the origin of the iconic Batman foe, stepping into a role that’s been inhabited by Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, and Jared Leto, among others.
While fans of the 43-year-old Oscar winner have no doubt he’ll knock it out of the park, Phoenix himself admits taking on such well-known role is nothing short of terrifying.
“I take a lot of time and consideration when making decisions and what I’m gonna work on always. So, in some ways, the process, which is obviously reading a script and meeting a filmmaker and then continuing to have meetings and discussions with [director] Todd [Phillips]. I think he’s very impressive and he seems to have a very interesting understanding of this world and what he’s trying to say,” Phoenix tells Collider.
“And so there is something very appealing about that and working with him on this particular project,” he adds. “It feels unique, it is its own world in some ways, and maybe, mostly, it scares the f**king s**t out of me or something. It might as well be the thing that scares you the most.”
However, Phoenix also admits that the Joker movie is exactly the kind of project he’s been seeking for the past few years.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. describes the upcoming film as an “exploration of a man disregarded by society [that] is not only a gritty character study but also a broader cautionary tale.”
The movie premieres on Oct. 4, 2019.
“Three or four years ago, I called my agent and said, ‘Why don’t they want to take one of these [comic book] characters and just make a lower-budget film about it, a movie but a character study, and why not take one of the villains?’” he explains.
While the Joker was at the top of the list, he admits thinking that particular character would be off the table. “I thought, You can’t do the Joker, because, you know, it’s just you can’t do that character, it’s just been done,” he says. “So I was trying to think of other characters, and he said, ‘I’ll set up a general meeting with Warner Bros.’ And I said, ‘I’m not gonna go, I can’t go to a general meeting.’ So I completely forgot about it, and so then I heard about this idea, I was like, ‘Oh, that’s so exciting. That’s the kind of experience I wanted to have, with a movie based on a comic character.’ I felt like you could get something on screen.”