Photos: RIO ASCH PHOENIX / Warner Bros

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JOAQUIN Phoenix has been widely praised for his transformative portrayal of the man who becomes the Joker in the new film hitting theatres. Although he doesn’t like to talk about awards, many believe this could be the year that the three-time nominee finally wins an Oscar.

In an interview, the 44-year-old Joker star spoke about his process, why he doesn’t necessarily want to give a playbook for how he did it and the time he worried Robert De Niro was going to throw an ashtray at his head.

On feeling insecure about his methods:

“Some of it just feels personal. I don’t know. Maybe I also get insecure and I go like, ‘He shouldn’t be reading that. That’s a stupid thing to read. Who would study that?’

“I’m afraid that I might say something that there’ll be some other great actor that I admire that was like, ‘This guy doesn’t know what he’s doing. That’s a terrible idea. Why would you ever study that?’”

On the 23kg weight loss:

“Once you reach the target weight, everything changes. Like so much of what’s difficult is, waking up every day and being obsessed over like 0.3 pounds (135g). You really develop like a disorder. I mean, it’s wild.

“But I think the interesting thing for me is what I had expected and anticipated with the weight loss was these feelings of dissatisfaction, hunger, a certain kind of vulnerability and a weakness. But what I didn’t anticipate was this feeling of kind of fluidity that I felt physically. I felt like I could move my body in ways that I hadn’t been able to before. And I think that really lent itself to some of the physical movement that started to emerge as an important part of the character.”

On finding Joker’s dance moves:

“I think what influenced me the most was Ray Bolger… There was a particular song called The Old Soft Shoe that he performed and I saw a video of it and there’s this odd arrogance almost to his movements and, really, I completely just stole it from him. He does this thing of turning his chin up.

“This choreographer Michael Arnold showed me that and tons of videos, and I zeroed in on that one. That was Joker, right? There’s an arrogance to him, really. That was probably the greatest influence. But also disco.”

On the upsides of experimenting:

“There seemed to be an infinite number of ways to interpret every moment or how he might behave in any moment. And there wasn’t anything that didn’t make sense. So we would do scenes so many different ways and some I would cry and others I would make jokes and others I would be angry and it would be the same scene and they all (expletive) made sense and that’s so rare.

“There’s something really exciting about that because it keeps you in this state of like perpetual investigation and trying to find something new.

“I think (director and co-writer) Todd (Phillips) and I were always working to try to surprise each other with some idea.

“There was never a moment that I felt completely relaxed. I was always searching for something else. And there’s something very exciting about that. It’s so much fun acting in that way. Often times it’s the opposite.”

And the downsides:

“For the first time in probably 25 years I watched dailies. So Todd and I would talk about which takes we thought worked.

But my favourite scene – what both of us thought was my best scene because of a particular take – that scene, is not in the movie. It’s a cliche, but it’s a puzzle. So you take out this scene and it affects the following scene. So a take that might have been really great no longer works.

“The best take for the end of his rant on Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro’s talk show host) just didn’t work. It was a really good take just on its own, but cut in with everything else it just didn’t work.

“An earlier take, one that I didn’t think was very good, was the one that worked best.”

On sassing off to De Niro’s character:

“It was one of my favourite parts, saying ‘Murr-AY.’ … Todd loved that too. And when I did that I thought: Is De Niro going to throw an ashtray at me?”

Check below an interview with Joaquin and his family on the show ’60 Minutes’, which aired today on CBS:

For the Best Performances 2020 issue, the stars of the biggest films of the past year posed for photographer Juergen Teller in the most quintessential of Los Angeles locales: strip malls, parking lots and hotel rooms. This time around, the annual portfolio features nine different covers, with Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood and Ad Astra), Joaquin Phoenix (Joker), Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers), Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name), Chris Evans (Knives Out and Avengers: Endgame), Laura Dern (Marriage Story and Little Women), Adam Driver (Marriage StoryThe Report, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker), Adam Sandler (Uncut Gems) and Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story and Jojo Rabbit). For the portfolio inside the issue, the actors sat down with W‘s Editor at Large Lynn Hirschberg to discuss their lives and work.

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I love musicals. The other day I was watching part of Bye Bye Birdie and feeling so happy. There’s a lot of Frank-N-Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show in the Joker. I saw that movie when I was 14 or 15, and I’ve always been jealous of that performance.
Do you have dance training?

Yes. And I worked with a choreographer for Joker. Normally, I don’t like talking about character with anyone other than the director, but the choreographer gave me a vocabulary that informed the role. I wanted to go from joy and euphoria to something painful. Dance gave me that language. And hunger.

Did you have trouble shaking off the character at the end of the day?

Well, I was living like a hermit because I was on an extreme diet. You can’t really socialize when you’re not eating or drinking.

Were your dreams different?

Yes. I was always dreaming about food. I’d dream that I ate a huge meal. And I’d wake up feeling so guilty.


On a late October afternoon, the day before his 45th birthday, Joaquin Phoenix sits in a Los Angeles hotel suite and somewhat sheepishly lights an American Spirit cigarette. Back in August, he had managed to quit smoking for about three weeks, he explains, but then he started up again when he traveled to the Venice Film Festival in September for the world premiere of his new film “Joker.” “It’s awful,” Phoenix says, shaking his head. “I’ve got to stop.”

It’s perhaps understandable that the actor has fallen back on a stress-relieving crutch like smoking given the head-spinning journey he’s found himself on lately. A grim, gritty take on the origin of the comic-book world’s most iconic villain, director Todd Phillips’ “Joker” rode into theaters last month on a wave of headline-grabbing controversy and sharply divided reviews and became an instant smash.

The Warner Bros. film has taken in nearly $1 billion worldwide to date, setting a record for the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time, and Phoenix’s turn as the troubled would-be-comedian-turned-murderous-evildoer Arthur Fleck has put him at the heart of this year’s lead actor Oscar race.

Plenty of films reap box office riches, but “Joker” has proved to be a bona fide cultural phenomenon. Fans have been making pilgrimages to a stairway in the Bronx to reenact the scene in which Fleck does a high-kicking dance down those steps. Endless think pieces about the movie have exploded across the internet, and viewers have pored over its every detail for clues about what it all means. Phoenix’s Joker suit was, according to one survey, among this year’s most popular Halloween costumes.

All the attention has been a lot for Phoenix to wrap his brain around. This is an actor who has always held fame at an ironic remove, to the point that he made a fake documentary, 2010’s “I’m Still Here,” chronicling his supposed crackup and decision to become a rapper. “I don’t think I expected this movie to be successful,” he says. “I don’t know if I had any expectation. Honestly, Todd and I were just trying to make something that didn’t end our careers.”

Before “Joker” came along, Phoenix had turned down a number of offers to star in comic-book movies. This wasn’t out of some aversion to the genre per se, he insists. (“I’m open to anything — I will consider a live-action version of ‘Road Runner.’ ”) He simply worried about being swallowed up by the sometimes soulless franchise machinery that often goes along with superhero fare.

“I remember, like eight years ago, I was told, ‘Movies are changing. They’re not making the movies that you want to make, so you’ve got to do one of these,’ ” Phoenix says. “It makes sense. It probably is a good strategy. But for me, I guess the fear was that you’d get locked into doing something repeatedly that you don’t really care about, that doesn’t motivate you or excite you.”

But despite Phoenix’s apparent resistance, Phillips was bent from the start on enticing the actor — who has earned three Oscar nominations for his work in 2000’s “Gladiator,” 2005’s “Walk the Line” and 2012’s “The Master” — to bring the Joker to life.

“There’s a little wildness in Joaquin’s eyes,” Phillips says. “I jokingly say he seems like an agent of chaos. He likes blurring the line between what’s real and what’s not. Just based on what I’d seen of him in movies or on TV doing interviews, there was something about that chaotic nature that just felt right.”

Though it took Phoenix four months to finally agree to sign on to the project, he was won over by Phillips’ vision for a grounded character study more akin to Martin Scorsese films like “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull” than the typical comic-book movie with its CGI spectacle, capes and quips. “Most movies feel so rigid; every moment is designed,” Phoenix says. “This felt like it was untethered and without a blueprint.”


Rain and Summer welcome their brother Joaquin Phoenix to LaunchLeft for this sibling powered episode. They ask questions and offer opinions on Joker as Joaquin graciously shares some great on and off screen moments. The Phoenix’s also reminisce about childhood, making their parents go vegan and their love of music. And finally, Joaquin launches Rain’s new record ‘River’ as they discuss the profound impact their older brother had on them growing up. Close to home. A very special LaunchLeft.

Via usatoday

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It’s no laughing matter: Like many people his age, Joaquin Phoenix has come to the conclusion that his comic book collection is no gold mine.

“I’m disappointed that my comics aren’t more valuable,” says Phoenix, 44, who still has some pretty choice issues, including Wolverine’s first appearance. “When you’re a kid, a hundred bucks is like a lot, right? I remember reading comics, being so excited: ‘Oh, man, it’s going to be worth 150 bucks!’ And then you’re an adult with a mortgage and you realize that all of your comics, it doesn’t amount to much.”

The superheroes of his childhood have become big business in Hollywood, though Phoenix is going in a very different direction with a fabled comic icon. Director Todd Phillips’ keenly anticipated psychological thriller “Joker” (in theaters Friday) imagines that a real-world scenario gives riseto the legendary Batman villain. That antagonist comes in the form of Arthur Fleck (Phoenix), a troubled Gotham City clown and stand-up comedian mocked and bullied for his unusual behavior and otherworldly cackle.

Phoenix is the latest in a long line of movie Jokers, joining the ranks of Jack Nicholson (1989’s “Batman”), Heath Ledger (2008’s “The Dark Knight”) and Jared Leto (2016’s “Suicide Squad”). But he does find the appeal of the anarchic antagonist – for actors and pop culture fans alike – “curious” overall.

“I wonder if it’s that they project their own feelings on the character because in some ways he’s a blank slate,” says Phoenix, breaking into a gigantic bottle of water while relaxing in an outdoor hotel bar area. “Most of these villains and heroes, their motivations are so clearly defined. Maybe there’s something enjoyable about a character in which we don’t really know what motivates him.”

Ledger posthumously won an Academy Award for his Joker, and Phoenix could make it two-for-two for the bad guy at the Oscars. A three-time nominee, he’s already considered overdue for golden glory, critical acclaim for his performance is boosting awareness, and he “most definitely will be in the mix,” says managing editor Erik Davis.

“(Oscar) voters love a juicy, no-holds-barred performance, he says. “And while Phoenix’s take is tough to watch and makes you uncomfortable at times, those are often the most powerful and lasting performances because they are the ones that stick with you long after leaving the theater.”

The road to becoming Joker, while admittedly “energizing,” wasn’t exactly a cakewalk, Phoenix says. Because there’s “limitless” potential for the character, he collaborated with Phillips constantly about everything from Arthur’s clownish look to his internal persona. As Joker evolved, so did Phoenix’s portrayal.

“When we were prepping for it, I felt very frustrated because I couldn’t lock on anything that felt like a foundation for the character,” Phoenix says. “And at some point, I realized that was the (expletive) point. He was unstable.

“It’s shaky ground as an actor. I enjoy not knowing precisely what a character may do, but you want to have like a couple moments that you feel solid about. And that never really happened,” he adds. “We just became very comfortable with not knowing.”

Read more at usatoday

Hunched over a table on the patio of a downtown Toronto hotel, Joaquin Phoenix starts to squirm when I ask him if he knew what he was getting into when he agreed to star in Joker, an origin story that recounts the rise of the famed Batman nemesis.

“Two days before we started shooting, I came here for The Sisters Brothers. I was doing press in Toronto for that film and during those interviews I was asked repeatedly about Joker and I suddenly realized that this held a lot of weight for many people.

“I remember one journalist saying to me, ‘People are really anticipating this and how do you feel about that?’ and I kind of just looked at him and said, ‘Why are you telling me this?’ ”

But Phoenix — who has eschewed high-profile movies in favour of smaller character-driven pictures revolving around loners and outsiders, including The MasterHer and last year’s You Were Never Really Here — was intrigued by the idea of exploring a possible origin of the comic book criminal as imagined by co-writer and director Todd Phillips (The Hangover trilogy).

“There’s something about a Todd Phillips movie that makes his films unique. So I knew that I wanted to work with him,” he says.

The three-time Oscar nominee, who has also played Johnny Cash (Walk the Line) and Jesus of Nazareth (Mary Magdalene), says his interest was further piqued by the idea of doing a standalone comic book movie that wasn’t tethered to DC’s ongoing Extended Universe, which is currently led by Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Harley Quinn and Shazam!

Created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson in 1940, the supervillain doesn’t have a defined origin tale. One popular version sees the character making his nefarious emergence after falling into a vat of acid. But Phoenix says he liked how this new reimagining was grounded in the real world.

Phillips’ 1981-set story casts Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, a gaunt street clown and a failed stand-up comic in Gotham City who slowly becomes unglued as he grapples with mental illness and his ailing mother’s hopes to insinuate herself back into the lives of her former employers, the Wayne family. Arthur’s grip on reality is further loosened as he begins to obsess about getting a chance to try out his act on a variety show led by a cocky late-night host (played by Robert De Niro).

Phoenix, 44, follows a long list of actors who have each put their own stamp on the Joker, including Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger (who won a posthumous Oscar for his take) and Jared Leto. But he says he didn’t study any of those prior performances.

“I didn’t want to be influenced by anything I might see,” he says slinking back into his chair. “I want why I’m doing a film to be motivated by me personally and how I’m responding to the subject.”

To prepare for the role, Phoenix, who credited his career to his late brother River while accepting the TIFF Tribute Actor Award in Toronto earlier this month, lost more than 50 pounds and delved deep into researching the effects of mental illness.

“What happened for me is (the character) just started presenting himself.”

Just days after Joker took home the Best Film Prize at the Venice Film Festival, a relaxed-looking Phoenix spoke about stepping into the role and whether his take on the Clown Prince of Crime really is a one-off.


Joaquin Phoenix was on Jimmy Kimme Live last night. Check out the interview below:

This Friday Joaquin will be on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Via | By Ruben V. Nepales 

Words to describe Joaquin Phoenix’s towering achievement as an actor in “Joker” are superfluous. He is terrific, astonishing, just plain brilliant in how Joker came to be.

Amid Joaquin’s genius of a performance, it is easy to overlook director Todd Phillips’ involving, unforgettable origin story for the Joker, which he cowrote with Scott Silver.

The year is 1981 and the screenplay chronicles the life of Arthur Fleck, a standup comedian flop who transforms into the Joker. Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz and Frances Conroy provide solid support.

Joaquin, usually reticent in interviews, was engaging. When he smiled or laughed, those dark eyes—his best features, which serve him well as an actor—light up.

How did you prepare to get in character to play Joker? Did you start with the laughter? Yeah, I started with the laughter. It was the very first thing that Todd brought to me in our first meeting, before I even read the script. He showed me videos of these people in these uncontrollable laughing fits. That certainly was the starting point.

I can’t remember exactly, but I started diving in four months before we started shooting. And that obviously has a profound effect on you.

How about the dancing? It’s integral to your Joker. I didn’t think about the dance and those movements until I got to New York, two months in advance. I started to work with the choreographer and watched videos. What is interesting and fun about making characters is you don’t know what part of them is going to affect another part.

And your tremendous weight loss for the role? The weight loss was a part of some of the fluidity that my character experienced in the movement, because literally you are lighter, and your body moves differently. When my weight got down to what my target was, I just moved differently. There’s something empowering and strengthening about losing that weight, because you take control over your body, impulses.

There’s also something weakening and detrimental about it physically—in my legs, you lose muscle mass, and you become susceptible to injuries in a different way. Those are things you start reacting to. My favorite is to have something tangible, an experience that I can have that affects that character. Part of it has to be experiential. But at least four months in advance of shooting, I started the process (or preparing).


Joaquin Phoenix and Joker’s director Todd Phillips were on the French TV show, Quotidien. Check out the interview (without subtitles):