Joaquin Phoenix, whose star turn in “Joker” is already generating awards buzz, said he “wanted the freedom to create something that wasn’t identifiable” and did not let himself be influenced by any previous versions of the character or pin him down as a familiar type.

“What was so attractive about this character for me is he’s so hard to define. You don’t really want to define him,” Phoenix said Saturday at the film’s press conference at the Venice Film Festival. “Every day felt like we were discovering new aspects of his character…up until the very last day.”

“I did identify Arthur as a particular personality, a particular type,” Phoenix said. But “I also wanted the freedom to create something that wasn’t identifiable. This is a fictional character. I didn’t want a psychiatrist to be able to identify the kind of person he was….Let’s step away from that, and we want to have the room to create what we want.”

Phoenix said previous essays of the role – such as Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning turn a decade ago – did not influence him. “I didn’t refer to any past iteration of the character,” he said. “It just felt like something that was our creation in some ways.”

Read more at Variety.