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Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix Dive Into Joker

Joaquin Phoenix is Joker.
Picture: Warner Bros.

Everyone seems to be speaking about Joker.

The brand new movie from Todd Phillips, starring Joaquin Phoenix as arguably essentially the most well-known comedian e-book villain ever, gained’t be out till subsequent month. And but, after preliminary critiques, movie competition reactions, and the distinguished Golden Lion award on the Venice Movie Pageant, it’s already one of popular culture’s largest tales.

Which is sensible. There’s loads occurring within the movie! However earlier than attending to that, some individuals could marvel, why make this film in any respect? Fortunately, io9 was amongst a bunch of journalists who bought to sit down down with Phillips and Phoenix in Los Angeles final month and do numerous speaking.

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“I just thought it was an interesting way to tell a story,” Phillips stated of his strategy to Joker. “I think it’s an interesting new approach to the comic book world.”

Within the movie, Phoenix performs Arthur Fleck, a disturbed clown for rent who, by a collection of unlucky occasions, finally ends up turning into an ultra-violent villain named Joker. And but, the movie is nearly the antithesis of all different comedian e-book films. It’s a interval piece. There are not any actual particular results. If you consider it, it nearly didn’t should be referred to as Joker in any respect. “Could it have been called ‘Arthur’ and it just be about a clown? Maybe,” Phillips stated. “I just thought that there’s a new way to tell a comic book movie, and maybe I’m wrong, but let’s do it as a character statement. A big part of what it should be about, more than making a movie called ‘Arthur,’ was to kind of deconstruct the comic book movie a little bit.”

One of many some ways Joker does that by leaving its textual content broad open to interpretation, which was a mantra very early on within the course of.

Phillips and Phoenix on the set of Joker.
Picture: Warner Bros.

“Part of, like, the joy of this movie is how the audience interacts with the film, and what they think about the character,” Phoenix stated of reactions to the movie. “Whenever we got to the part where we felt like we were coming up with a definitive reason for anything, we backed away from it. We found a way to kind of circumnavigate it a little bit.”

Because of this, Joker nearly turns into a mirror on its viewers. Phillips even talked about that, whereas the movie is completely not part of the bigger DC movie universe, individuals have tried to see it that manner, attempting to sq. the circle on the way it might match right into a DC timeline the place the age hole between the Joker and Batman. Within the movie, Bruce Wayne is performed by a younger actor named Dante Pereira-Olson, who’s 9 in actual life, whereas Phoenix is enjoying Arthur most likely in his 40s, although neither character is ever explicitly given an age within the movie. By that logic, by the point Bruce turns into Batman, Arthur can be a lot older than the standard Joker—however even to Phillips, that individuals approached his film that manner was an intriguing response.

“People I have shown this movie to, they go ‘Oh, I get it,’” Phillips stated. “And by the way in which, I am not saying they’re proper however they go ‘Oh, I get it. He’s not the Joker, he’s the inspiration for the Joker. He’s any individual that impressed the Joker.’ And also you go ‘That’s an fascinating manner to take a look at it, why?’ and so they go, ‘Oh, their age difference’ and I go ‘Oh, that’s fascinating.’”

Whereas individuals can learn into the film nevertheless they need, Phillips and Phoenix aimed for many of that studying to be grounded in our actuality—making these interpretations much less about comedian e-book lore and extra about real-world points.

“The movie, in every way, tries to be grounded in reality as much as possible,” Phillips stated. “It still has a foot in the comic book world, for sure, but we just kept thinking ‘Let’s put everything through a realistic lens.’ Like why does he have a white face? Well, [are we] going to drop him in acid?…While it’s amazing in the comic books and Jack Nicholson and all that, it doesn’t feel very real that that would happen if you fell into a vat of acid. So let’s come up with a realistic answer for everything.”

That is how Joker will get his white face in Joker.
Picture: Warner Bros.

The movie’s setting—Gotham Metropolis in a as soon as once more undefined time interval, most likely within the late ‘70s, early ‘80s—can be a key consider conveying what the filmmakers have been going for.

“There were a lot of reasons [to set it then],” Phillips stated. “One reason was to separate it, quite frankly, from the DC Universe. When we pitched it to Warner Bros and handed the script in, [we wanted to] make it clear, this isn’t fucking with anything you have going on. This is like a separate universe so much so that it takes place in the past before everything else.”

“Another reason is [that], tonally, the movie is very much a character study,” Phillips continued. “These movies we grew up on and loved, you go ‘God, those movies don’t get made as much anymore.’ They get made, these character studies, but…in the ‘70s and ‘80s, they were much more frequent. It’s also just an old homage to that time. We’re making a movie that feels like that, why not set it there?”

So sure, everyone seems to be speaking about Joker. However ultimately, if Phillips and Phoenix have been capable of trip that line between comics and actuality, between the previous and current, between social and political, there needs to be a lot to speak about and take into account when the credit roll. However truly they’re each actually hoping is that you don’t wish to converse in any respect.

“I always enjoy movies that are difficult to speak about right after,” Phillips stated. “You go, ‘I want to process this a little bit.’ I always find those to be particularly rewarding in a way. It’s not like that was a specific goal, but it is something I always enjoy about movies, where you can’t necessarily distill it down into a one-line thing, really simply. So, yeah, I suppose it was somewhat of a goal.”

Joker is in theaters October 4.


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