Joaquin Phoenix called perfecting the Joker's laugh the toughest part of playing the character.
Joaquin Phoenix based his laugh on "videos of people suffering from pathological laughter." He also sought to portray a character with which audiences could not identify.
In a recent interview with SFX magazine, Joaquin Phoenix acknowledged that while the violence in "Joker" is "a little more visceral and raw" than films such as the Avengers series, he "didn't have any hesitation about it." "You always want it to feel real, and you want the little violence that we have to have an impact," he said. "What happens in a lot of movies is that you get numb to it, you're killing 40,000 people, you don't feel it. While being a fictional story in a fictional world, you always want it to feel real. Everything that happens in this movie as far as violence goes, you feel it."
Todd Phillips described Joaquin Phoenix's take on Arthur as, "a guy who is searching for identity who mistakenly becomes a symbol. His goal genuinely is to make people laugh and bring joy to the world."
Joaquin Phoenix said about the 24 kg 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. Right? And 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."
Joaquin Phoenix was cagey during interviews at the Venice Film Festival when asked about siding with Arthur. Phoenix told press that any questions they might have about "Joker" will be left up to the audience to decide. "The great joy of the film for the audience is that they get to decide for themselves [what to think about Arthur's transformation]," Phoenix said. "That's what I was attracted to. In most movies, certainly in genre movies where there is a hero and the villain, the motivations of the character are clear. What I like about this is that I was never certain what was motivating him. I have my own opinion. I think I know what it is for me. But I wouldn't want to impose on anyone who hasn't seen the movie."
The joke "When I was a little boy and told people I was going to be comedian, everyone laughed at me. Well no one's laughing now" is inspired by the late British comedian Bob Monkhouse's "People used to laugh at me when I said I wanted to be a comedian. Well they're not laughing now."
When asked about violence in the R-rated film, Todd Phillips said, "Violence in the movie was always meant to be a slow burn. People assume and think it's going to be a really violent movie; it affects you differently. You could watch something like John Wick 3 and there's a much higher amount of violence. We tried to paint it with as realistic a brush as possible so that when it comes it feels like a punch in the stomach. But it's all a balancing act of tone." And when asked about tone, "I think movies are oftentimes mirrors of society, but never molders. We wrote it in 2017 so inevitably certain themes find their way in." When he continued, "It's not a political film" there was laughter in the press room, and he added "for some I think it depends the lens which you view it through."
Todd Phillips won the Venice film festival's prize, the Golden Lion, for Best Film. During his acceptance speech, Phillips thanked "Warner Bros. and DC for stepping out of their comfort zone and taking such a bold swing on me and this movie," according to The Hollywood Reporter. Phillips also thanked Joaquin Phoenix, who joined him on stage. "There is no movie without Joaquin Phoenix. Joaquin is the fiercest and brightest and most open-minded lion I know. Thank you for trusting me with your insane talent," said Phillips.
Speaking about the villain's iconic laugh, Joaquin Phoenix called it "Something that's almost painful. I think for Joker it's a part of him that wants to emerge. I think we all kind of assume what a Joker laugh is and it felt like a new, fresh way of looking at it. I didn't think that I could do it", he added. "I kind of practiced alone but I asked Todd to come over to audition my laugh. I felt like I had to be able to do it on the spot and in front of somebody else. It was really uncomfortable. It took me a long time".
Todd Phillips and Scott Silver TY found the most common Joker origin story, in which the character is disfigured after falling into a vat of chemicals, too unrealistic. Instead, they used certain elements of the Joker lore to produce an original story, which Phillips wanted to feel as authentic as possible. Because the Joker does not have a definitive origin story in the comics, Phillips and Silver were given considerable creative freedom to steal a script that was sent to WB and "pushed each other every day to come up with something totally insane." The two stole a script sent to them written with Phoenix in mind: "The goal was never to introduce Joaquin Phoenix into the comic book movie universe. The goal was to introduce comic book movies into the Phoenix universe."
Joaquin Phoenix was good friends with the late Heath Ledger who won an Oscar for his portrayal as The Joker in The Dark Knight (2008).
According to Todd Phillips on New York Times, Joaquin Phoenix "lost his composure on the set, sometimes to the bafflement of his co-stars." "In the middle of the scene, he'll just walk away and walk out," Phillips said. "And the poor other actor thinks it's them and it was never them - it was always him, and he just wasn't feeling it." Phoenix might have walked off set, but he always returned after taking a breather. Phillips remembered Phoenix reassuring him after an especially tense moment, "We'll take a walk and we'll come back and we'll do it." One person Phoenix never walked out on was Robert De Niro, De Niro told The Times that Phoenix was a "consummate professional" when they were on set together. "Joaquin was very intense in what he was doing, as it should be, as he should be," De Niro said. "There's nothing to talk about, personally, on the side, 'Let's have coffee.' Let's just do the stuff."
Joaquin Phoenix's first role in a comic book film. He previously turned down the title role in Doctor Strange (2016) as well as the chance to replace Edward Norton as Bruce Banner/Hulk in The Avengers (2012), because he was unwilling to sign on to the multi-picture deal that Marvel Studios was requiring.
The song heard in the teaser trailer is "Smile", composed by Charles Chaplin for his film Modern Times (1936).
This version of Joker exists separately from DCEU movies like Wonder Woman (2017), Aquaman (2018), and Justice League (2017)--a fact Justice League (2017) has been clear about. But at the Toronto International Film Festival recently, the director also insisted that Joaquin Phoenix's Joker and the upcoming new iteration of Batman played by Robert Pattinson in The Batman (2021) will not collide. "I don't see [Joker] connecting to anything in the future," Phillips said. "This is just a movie."
In September 2019, director and co-writer Todd Phillips said he wants comic book movie fans to know that there is no chance of Joaquin Phoenix's villain and Robert Pattinson's Batman ever crossing over on the big screen. He added that doesn't mean Pattinson won't ever possibly face off against Joker, it just won't be his version.
Arthur fires the gun and writes left-handed, but Joaquin Phoenix is right-handed. Actually, Arthur fleck writes right-handed for his general journal entries, but his mental breaks switch him to writing left-handed temporarily.
The filmmakers cite Alan Moore's comic "The Killing Joke", which tells the Joker's origin and descent into insanity, and the Martin Scorsese films Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980) and The King of Comedy (1982) as an influence on the film.
Zazie Beetz was asked by Variety at TIFF about whether or not the movie sympathizes with Joaquin Phoenix's Arthur Fleck, a struggling stand-up comedian and clown for hire whose psychological unraveling leads him to become the notorious Batman villain. Beetz doesn't deny that "Joker" has a sympathetic viewpoint, but she argued that it's less towards Arthur/Joker and more towards Arthur's predicament on a broader scale. "It's kind of an empathy toward isolation," Beetz said, "and an empathy towards what is our duty as a society to address people who slip through the cracks in a way. There is a lot of culture of that right now. So is it empathy for that or just an observation on personalities who struggle?"
According to the MSN.com film website, this film got made because the producers pitched a production budget of just $35 million to Warner Bros, and the actual final cost of the film (i.e before advertising, distribution and promotion) stayed within that figure. This is partly because Todd Phillips is known to not be a flamboyant director, the film is not an effects heavy movie and Joaquin Phoenix is not considered to be an expensive A list superstar actor but a down to earth character actor who prefers to work on low key projects.
Joaquin Phoenix talked about how his conception of Joker changed during production and what interested him in the character. "Throughout the course of shooting it felt like every day we were discovering new parts of his personality, up until the very last day," said Phoenix. "It was his struggle to find happiness and to feel connected and to feel warmth and love and that's the part of the character I was interested in. He was so many different things to me. Who he was in the first few weeks of shooting was completely different than who he was in the end. He was constantly evolving. I've never had an experience like this. The more unpredictable and looser we left it, the more exciting it was."
Joaquin Phoenix lost a lot of weight for his role as the Joker. It was so serious that filming could only be done once, with no opportunity for reshoots. Todd Phillips had to write the script during production.
A week after the film's release, Joaquin Phoenix secretly attended a Saturday screening at a movie house in the San Fernando Valley in which he surprised fans after the film was over. Phoenix ended up answering questions about the film, posing with fans, and shaking hands. He got a little stage fright when asked to do his tormented Joker laugh from the film.
Joaquin Phoenix had been interested in a low-budget "character study" of a comic book character, and said the film "feels unique, it is its own world in some ways, and maybe [...] It might as well be the thing that scares you the most.
Joaquin Phoenix revealed that Ray Bolger heavily influenced the Joker's quirky dance moves in the movie. "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," the star explains. "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."
When asked if Joker meant anything for the DC/Marvel rivalry, Todd Phillips stated: "I'm not about the competition with Marvel and I've not been in the comic book world. When we conceived of this idea, it was a different approach. I don't know the sort of effect it will have with other filmmakers. Comic movies are doing really well. They don't need to change."
Originally Warner Brothers wanted Martin Scorsese to make this film with Leonardo DiCaprio as Arthur and Robert De Niro to play Murray Franklin. However in the end this proved to be logistically impossible as DiCaprio had already signed on to do Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood (2019) for Quentin Tarantino which was due to start filming at the same time. Scorsese had also committed himself to another project, The Irishman (2019), which also starred De Niro. However De Niro himself had just finished filming his scenes for that film by the time Joker went into production so was able to commit himself to doing this film too.
The film's final budget was $55 million, considered by The Hollywood Reporter "a fraction" of the typical budget for a comic book-based film.
The DC comics logo does not appear in this film until after the end credits. This is a clear attempt by the film makers to distance this film from the DC extended universe films also in production at the time.
The first theatrical DC Comics film to be rated R since Watchmen (2009), released ten years earlier.
For the Joker's laugh, Todd Phillips broke down into three types: "the affliction laugh, the one of the guys laugh and the authentic joy laugh", the director described it to Joaquin Phoenix as "something that is almost painful, part of him that's trying to emerge." That was "a really interesting way of looking at this laugh. We all assume what a Joker laugh is. This was new and exciting."
In a deliberate attempt to keep the budget down there are almost no CGI effects shots in this film. One of the very few is the scene where Arthur Fleck walks towards the building named Arkham Asylum in his attempt to look at his mothers medical records. This scene was CGI enhanced but otherwise most of this films effects were either practical or created in camera.
Fans believed that Joaquin Phoenix was, in fact, following extreme medical advice and eating just an apple a day in order to keep losing the weight, but he says that's not true. "It wasn't an apple a day," he said. "No, you've also got lettuce and steamed green beans." Such a vast reduction in his daily calorie intake meant that Phoenix was able to drop 28kg, all the while resisting temptation in the form of Joker director Todd Phillips. "Todd did have these f**king pretzels that I love," he said. "And he'd just have bags of them in his office! And that was difficult."
In terms of prep, the first part for Joaquin Phoenix was physical: "You really start to go mad when you start to lose that much weight in that amount of time." He also read about political assassins and would-be assassins, but was careful not to overly define Arthur. "I wanted the freedom to create something that wasn't identifiable. I didn't want a psychologist to be able to identify the kind of person he was," he explained. A key element of finding the character came during rehearsal when Todd Phillips gave Phoenix a journal which acts as a prop in the film. Said Phoenix, "That was really helpful but I wasn't sure how to start. It became a really important part of discovery for me at that time."
Robert De Niro said his role in Joker pays homage to his character from The King of Comedy (1982), Rupert Pupkin, who is a comedian obsessed with a talk-show host.
The premiere of the film at the Venice Film Festival drew an eight-minute standing ovation.
The filmmakers used the working title 'Romero' while filming to keep the film's production a secret. The name could be homage to Cesar Romero, who also played the character.
Although he is not referred to by name anywhere in the films dialogue, the Englishman who confronts Arthur at the gates of Wayne Manor is Alfred Pennyworth, the trusted Butler and confidante of Bruce Wayne.
Joaquin Phoenix was considered for the role of Batman in Darren Aronofsky's canceled "Batman: Year One" movie.
Director Todd Phillips had to convince the movie studio to keep the R rating for the movie when they became concerned about some of the footage they saw as being too violent.
The address of the Joker's stairs is 1165 Shakespeare Ave, The Bronx, NY 10452, USA. After the theatrical release of the movie, the stairs turned into a tourist attraction.
Joaquin Phoenix walked out of an interview when asked to respond to concerns about onscreen violence in his new film, "Joker," which tells the origin story of the DC comic book villain. For an article, Telegraph film critic Robbie Collin sat down with the actor and asked whether he worries the new film "might perversely end up inspiring exactly the kind of people it's about, with potentially tragic results." Phoenix balked at the question. "Why? Why would you ... ? No, no," he stammered before abruptly getting up and leaving the room. An hour later, after negotiating with a Warner Bros agent, Phoenix returned to finish the interview, explaining that he panicked because he hadn't yet considered the question. Throughout the rest of the article, Phoenix does not provide an answer.
Joaquin Phoenix disagreed about gravitating towards tormented characters, stating he had been "interested in the light of Arthur for lack of a better word. It wasn't just the torment, it was the joy, his struggle to find happiness and to feel connected. To have warmth and love. I don't think of a character as tormented." Ultimately, Phoenix said of Arthur/Joker, "He was so many different things to me at different times, the more unpredictable it was the more inspiring."
Joaquin Phoenix and Robert De Niro had a clash during the earliest stage of filming. De Niro follows traditional rite of script read-through, a process that Phoenix dislikes. De Niro insisted that they did, and Phoenix half-heartedly accepted, mumbling through the entire read-through. They reportedly settled their differences immediately, but on set they hardly ever spoke to each other outside of filming. They maintained that their disagreement are strictly professional, however, and Phoenix went on to say that De Niro is his favorite actor.
At a point of the movie Arthur Fleck says "I used to think that my life was a tragedy, but now I realize, it's a comedy." It's a paraphrasing of Charles Chaplin's quote who once said: "Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot." Chaplin also makes an appearance in a viewing of 'Modern Times' for the elite of Gotham City whilst the city is blazing outside by riots.
Arthur Fleck performs stand up at 'Pogo's Comedy Club' in Gotham. Pogo the Clown was the stage name of real life professional clown and serial killer John Wayne Gacy.
Speaking at the Venice Film Festival where the film premiered, Joaquin Phoenix stated that he wanted his version of the Joker to be extremely complex, so he did extensive research on various personality disorders so that even psychiatrists would not be able to identify what his character was. He also added that even the filmmaker and Phoenix himself were in the process of discovering new aspects of the character and his personality up until the very last day of the shooting.
When Arthur/Joker walks onto The Murray Franklin Show, he kisses the other guest, an elderly female sex therapist. This is a reference to Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns", when Joker does the same thing (except his kiss kills the sex therapist).
Warner Brothers were initially hesitant in making this film as it was thought to be too dark and violent. They were concerned that it may tarnish Joker for kids who annually buy millions of toys and related merchandise. However, a year later and after some convincing from Todd Phillips, they finally agreed to go ahead with this project. A violent R rated DC comic book film adaptation is nothing new to Warner Brothers who spent a considerable amount on V for Vendetta (2005) and Watchmen (2009) with the latter costing more than $130m, more than double that of the Joker.
It has been speculated that Joker was inspired by John Wayne Gacy or Pogo the clown. In the movie joker, Arthur does stand up at a comedy club/ bar called "Pogo's". Director Todd Phillips actually had John Wayne Gacy do the artwork for the promotional posters of his GG Allin documentary and thanked him the credits of it.
During a press conference at the Venice International Film Festival, Joaquin Phoenix was asked if he prepared for the role by watching any other takes on the character, and it seems this version does not find its roots in anything that's come before. "For me what the attraction to make this film, this character, was that we were going to approach it in our own way, so for me, I didn't refer to any past iterations of the character." Phoenix said. "It was just something that felt like it was our creation in some ways and I think that's what was really important for me and key to it."
By September 2017, Warner Bros. was considering casting Leonardo DiCaprio as the Joker, hoping to use his frequent collaborator Martin Scorsese's involvement to lure him, but by February 2018, Joaquin Phoenix was Todd Phillips' top choice for the role. Padraig Cotter of Screen Rant noted that since the film was a standalone story, Phoenix would not have to appear in sequels as he would have in the Marvel offer. Phoenix said when he learned of the film, he became excited because it was the kind of film he was looking to make, describing it as unique and stating it did not feel like a typical "studio movie". However, it took Phoenix some time to commit to the role, as it intimidated him and he said "oftentimes, in these movies, we have these simplified, reductive archetypes, and that allows for the audience to be distant from the character, just like we would do in real life, where it's easy to label somebody as evil, and therefore say, 'Well, I'm not that.'"
In August 2018, Hildur Guðnadóttir was hired to compose the film's score. Guðnadóttir began writing music after reading the script and met with Todd Phillips, who "had a lot of strong ideas" about how he thought the score should sound. She worked on the Joker score alongside the score for the drama miniseries Chernobyl (2019); Guðnadóttir said switching between the two was challenging because the scores were so different.
Joaquin Phoenix said he took the role of the Joker "because I wasn't sure how I felt about him. When I have all the answers, I get bored. This one really kept me guessing."
Early footage shows Arthur walking by a sign for Amusement Mile, Gotham City's version of Coney Island, which features prominently in the original Killing Joke graphic novel. Joker co-creator Bill Finger was partly inspired by a sign for Steeplechase Park in the real Coney Island which featured a grotesque grinning face.
While the film draws many parallels to Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver (1976), the most blatant outside of the Robert De Niro casting is the iconic gun to the head hand gesture. This gesture is one of the most famous images to come from De Niro's Travis Bickle character, and is conducted in this film on various occasions by both Joaquin Phoenix and Zazie Beetz's characters.
In the opening scene, Arthur sits at a mirror and pulls the sides of his lips down to make an exaggerated frown, then pulls them up to create a huge smile. Both of his faces are an absolutely perfect imitation of the theatrical masks of comedy and tragedy (even down to the tear falling from the right eye), themes that are crucial in Arthur's character. Arthur starts out as a heavy chainsmoker even for the era, growing even worse as Joker who is smoking constantly whenever not running from the cops or confronting victims.
The two films showing at the theater the Wayne family is shown exiting near the end are Blow Out (1981) and Zorro: The Gay Blade (1981). Both are real movies that were released on back-to-back weekends in July 1981.
Arthur takes a moment to enjoy a Charles Chaplin film. The Joker, in most continuities, is a fan of classic comedians, with Chaplin being one of his favorites.
Following the disappointing critical and financial performance of Justice League (2017), in January 2018 Walter Hamada replaced Jon Berg as the head of DC-based film production at Warner Bros. Hamada sorted through the various DC films in development, canceling some while advancing work on others; Joker was expected to begin filming in late 2018 with a small budget. By June, Robert De Niro was under consideration for a supporting role in the film. The deal with Joaquin Phoenix was finalized in July 2018, after four months of persuasion from Todd Phillips. Immediately afterwards, Warner Bros. officially green-lit the film, titled it Joker, and gave it an October 4, 2019, release date. Warner Bros. described the film as "an exploration of a man disregarded by society [that] is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale".
Three of the previous actors who have played the Joker (Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, and Jared Leto) are Oscar winners, with Ledger winning for playing The Joker. Joaquin Phoenix has been nominated for an Oscar three times.
The teaser trailer uses a cover of "Smile", Charles Chaplin's original composition from Modern Times (1936). To double down on it, Fleck is even shown being thrown out of a cinema that's advertising a showing of that very film.
In an interview in Vanity Fair, leading neurocriminologist Adrian Raine said he was stunned by how authentically the film depicted the psychology of the criminal mind. "For 42 years, I've studied the cause of crime and violence. And while watching this film, I thought - WOW, what a revelation this was. It is a great educational tool about the making of the murderer," he said. In the article, Raine went on to diagnose the character of Arthur Fleck with schizotypal personality disorder. "Those who suffer from it have bizarre beliefs, odd behavior, odd appearance, odd speech, no close friends other than family members, and emotional-affect issues - either being completely shut down or way over the top," Raine said. He now uses the film as part of a course he teaches at the University of Pennsylvania.
In an interview, Joaquin Phoenix discussed Batman and whether or not his version of the Joker would be enthused to meet him. "I hadn't thought about that. I feel under pressure. I want to give you a great answer, something that's fun. You have a lot of energy, you seem excited, I want to reciprocate that. But I don't know what his reaction will be. I imagine that he would feel a surge of excitement."
According to Todd Phillips about writing the script: "It was a yearlong process from when we finished the script just to get the new people on board with this vision, because I pitched it to an entirely different team than made it. There were emails about: 'You realize we sell Joker pajamas at Target.' There were a zillion hurdles, and you just sort of had to navigate those one at a time. At the time, I would curse them in my head every day. But then I have to put it in perspective and go, 'They're pretty bold that they did this.'
Although not directly stated, the film is set in the early to mid 1980s. Several things give this away e.g. black and white television sets were still common and every television seen whether color or B&W is CRT not flat screen. Arthur uses a VCR (prohibitively expensive until the early 1980s). Vehicles used throughout the movie are common for the era. The parallels between Gotham and the crime problems in new York around that era (including the NY subway vigilante shootings by Bernhard Goetz in 1984). The use of payphones. Murray's attire. Brian De Palma's Blow Out showing in a cinema. Bruce Wayne's apparent age and the use of the Warner Brothers logo of the era at the beginning of the film.
Co-writer and director Todd Phillips doesn't see Joker as that big of a departure from comedy. "It's different tonally than a lot of my work, but ultimately it's storytelling. I was influenced by the movies I grew up on, character studies of the 70s, so I thought why can't you do genre film like that in the comic book world, a deep dive on a character like Joker. I thought with a great actor we could really do something special."
In India, the film was released early on October 2nd, International Day of Non-Violence, making it ironic, because it was labelled "too violent and disturbing". This public holiday in India is Mahatama Gandhi's birthday anniversary on 2nd October. Highly anticipated movies are often released on public holidays to get a good opening.
Director Todd Phillips was born in 1970 in New York City and wanted to invoke the feel and look of his childhood memories of the city when making this film. Although the film is set in the fictional Gotham City, there are many parallels between Gotham and NY in this film. Unemployment, crime and even the subway vigilante shootings by Bernhard Goetz in 1984 were all a direct influence on the story in this film. New York set films that were an influence on the visual style and aesthetic of this film include The French Connection (1971), Death Wish (1974), Taxi Driver (1976), The Warriors (1979) and The King of Comedy (1982). Robert De Niro, who plays the role of Murray Franklin in this film was the star of Taxi Driver (1976) and The King of Comedy (1982).
A group of extras reported that they were locked in a subway car for hours against union rules, and all their attempts to bring this up were ignored until some of them even had to urinate out the window. SAG stepped in upon hearing about the situation to closely monitor the production.
Venice Film Festival director Alberto Barbera has identified Joker as an early Oscar contender following its premiere screening at the 76th annual event on Saturday. In an interview with Deadline, Barbera discussed Joker's resoundingly positive reception and further stoked awards buzz by endorsing critics' praise for Joaquin Phoenix's apparent Oscar-worthy performance as the Clown Prince of Crime. "They're very good," he said of the film's Academy prospects. "Absolutely, it will be in the running. The film deserves the reception it is getting. It goes beyond the boundaries of the genre. Joaquin Phoenix's performance is outstanding and Todd Phillips did a great job."
Dante Pereira-Olson, who played young Bruce Wayne, previously played a young version of Joaquin Phoenix's character Joe in You Were Never Really Here (2017).
In Beirut, Lebanon on Thursday, October 17, austerity measures were issued which outraged the citizens who demand that the government take responsibility for the country's ongoing financial crisis and corruption. This sparked massive protests. Inspired by this film and its main character, some demonstrators painted their faces in the same manner as Arthur Fleck's Joker make-up. It was even said that the film became a symbol of protest.
At one point in the film, Joker looks out of a cop car and the camera focuses on his face while there is a bokeh present in the background. This is an homage to a similar shot in The Dark Knight (2008).
Zazie Beetz, a "huge fan" of Joaquin Phoenix, said that it was "an honor" to work with him, and that she learned a lot working with him on set.
On September 22 2018, a scene depicting a violent protest took place in Brooklyn, although the station was modified to look like Bedford Park Blvd. In late September 2018, filming of robbery scenes took place at the First Central Savings Bank in Astoria, Queens. According to Zazie Beetz, Todd Phillips rewrote the entire script during production; because Joaquin Phoenix lost so much weight for the film, there would not be an opportunity for reshoots. She recalled: "we would go into Todd's trailer and write the scene for the night and then do it. During hair and makeup we'd memorize those lines and then do them and then we'd reshoot that three weeks later."
Taking a page from Sergio Leone, writer-director Todd Phillips asked composer Hildur Guðnadóttir to write the score before filming, something unusual. This was in order to use the music to set the mood on set while shooting the scenes.
Wall markings of the Amusement Mile, Gotham City's old amusement park in the comics, can be seen in the first set stills. As well as graffiti referencing the Mad Hatter.
In the scene where Arthur is in the audience of a comedy club, the performing comedian is Gary Gulman, who is a stand-up comic. The bit he performs about role-playing with his girlfriend can be heard on Gulman's 2012 album "No Can Defend."
An early reference for Todd Phillips and co-screenwriter Scott Silver was the silent film The Man Who Laughs (1928). They felt they had "a lot of freedom because Joker never really had an origins story in the comics. We thought it was really liberating because there really were no rules or boundaries, Scott and I just pushed each other every day to come up with something totally insane."
Todd Phillips and Scott Silver wrote Joker throughout 2017, and the writing process took about a year. According to producer Emma Tillinger Koskoff, it took some time to get approval for the script from Warner Bros., partly because of concerns over the content. Similarly, Phillips commented that there were "a zillion hurdles" during the year-long writing process due to the visibility of the character. Phillips said that while the script's themes may reflect modern society, the film was not intended to be political.
Pseudobulbar affect is a condition that is characterized by an involuntary and uncontrollable reaction of laughter or crying that's disproportionate to an event.
According to a report from Hollywood Reporter Jared Leto, who played the Joker in Suicide Squad (2016) to mixed reception, was allegedly very alienated and upset by Joaquin Phoenix being the Joker and not him.
Alec Baldwin was in talks to play Thomas Wayne, but dropped out a day after being announced in the role, due to scheduling conflicts.
The All News Radio Station and story format Arthur listens to at the beginning of the film was based on those of New York City Radio Station WINS.
Since the film's release, the character of Arthur Fleck/Joker became a symbol of protest in countries such as Lebanon, Chile, Iraq, and China for government corruption protests.
Shailene Woodley was offered the role of Sophie Dumond but turned it down due to scheduling conflicts with Big Little Lies (2017). Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Dakota Johnson and Aja Naomi King were all considered for the the part. Winstead went on to play Helena Bertinelli/Huntress in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020). Zazie Beetz was cast in the role.
Murray Franklin and his show appear to be an amalgam, of Johnny Carson and Merv Griffin, along with the talk shows they hosted.. The surname Franklin was likely an homage to Joe Franklin, who hosted a legendary self titled local late night talk show which aired for several years in New York City.
Joaquin Phoenix explained he wanted his spin on the character to be unidentifiable by real-world psychiatrists after noting he didn't consult past portrayals of the Joker, including Heath Ledger's Academy Award-winning performance. "The attraction to make this film and this character was that we were going to approach it in our own way, so, for me, I didn't refer to any past iterations of the character," Phoenix said. "It was just something that felt like it was our creation in some ways, and I think that's what was really important for me and key to it."
With Joaquin Phoenix playing the Joker, all the major cast members of Gladiator (2000) have played mentors/origin story characters for all the DC superheroes. Russell Crowe has played Superman's father Jor-El in Man of Steel (2013), Connie Nielsen played Princess Diana 's mother Queen Hippolyta in Wonder Woman (2017) and Djimon Hounsou played Shazam the wizard in Shazam! (2019) and King Ricou in Aquaman (2018).
The actor named Ethan Chase, who guests on the Murray Franklin show, is a reference to Zach Galifianakis' character in Todd Phillips' film Due Date (2010).
Due to differences in time zones the first trailer was released on April 4th in Australia which is also the birthday of the late Australian actor Heath Ledger who played Joker in The Dark Knight (2008).
Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy expressed hope that Joker voice actor Mark Hamill could reprise the role in the film while DC Extended Universe Joker actor Jared Leto wanted to reprise the role as well.
While director Todd Phillips implies there are no major Easter eggs in the film, one particular major Easter egg can be found when Arthur is getting his make up done. When getting ready, the mirror in front of Arthur has two eyes shaped with a cowl like reflection staring right back at him if one looks closely. This can be easily be traced into Batman who will be his biggest obsession and his arch-enemy after his Joker persona is completed. For an interview in 2001 in terms of writing The Killing Joke, the graphic novel which was a major inspiration for Phillips in writing Joker, writer Alan Moore said Batman and the Joker are mirror images of each other.
Second DC movie featuring the Joker to be R rated after Batman: The Killing Joke (2016).
The script was often changed just before filming began, and the actors had to adjust the dialogue of their characters and even improvise According to film director Todd Phillips, Zazie Beetz's character, Sophie, was always well planned when it came to writing or actually shooting. He complimented Beet and said she was fantastic and "never been enthusiastic about this kind of improvisation, but she was passionate about the changes, she helped with the dialogue for her character and it was a wonderful collaboration."
The director, Todd Phillips, revealed on Instagram that shooting had wrapped on 19th of December 2018.
Arthur's clown make-up was intentionally "antique" - his lips were made reddish brown to resemble blood. Nicki Ledermann, head of make-up, says, "Even his wry smile is a metaphor for not everything being perfect. Maybe it's funny - maybe it's not that." Here should be deliberately left room for your own thoughts.
Production moved to New Jersey afterward. Filming in Jersey City started on September 30 and shut down Newark Avenue, while filming in November (starting on November 9) shut down Kennedy Boulevard. Filming in Newark began on October 13 and lasted until October 16. Shortly before filming in Newark began, SAG-AFTRA received a complaint that extras were locked in subway cars for more than three hours during filming in Brooklyn, a break violation. However, the issue was quickly resolved after a representative visited the set. That month, Dante Pereira-Olson and Douglas Hodge joined the cast. Whigham said towards the end of October the film was in "the middle" of production, adding that it was an "intense" and "incredible" experience. By mid-November, filming had moved back to New York. Filming wrapped on December 3, 2018, with Todd Phillips posting a picture on his Instagram feed later in the month to commemorate the occasion.
Todd Phillips said in interview that first cut of the film was 155 minutes long, and how there were multiple different cuts of it. There are several promotional stills which show deleted scenes, and there are some more which are glimpsed in all the trailers.
Third iteration of the character appearing to have long hair, following Kevin Michael Richardson's animated version in The Batman (2004) and Heath Ledger's iconic portrayal in The Dark Knight (2008).
The stunt driver, Josh Lakatos, that drove the ambulance into the police car towards the end of the film, is also an Olympic Silver Medalist from the 1996 Atlanta's Olympic Games.
Joaquin Phoenix disagreed about gravitating towards tormented characters, stating he had been "interested in the light of Arthur for lack of a better word. It wasn't just the torment, it was the joy, his struggle to find happiness and to feel connected. To have warmth and love. I don't think of a character as tormented." Ultimately, Phoenix said of Arthur/Joker, "He was so many different things to me at different times, the more unpredictable it was the more inspiring."
Principal photography commenced on September 10, 2018 in New York City, under the working title Romero.
Todd Phillips confirmed he was in the process of editing Joker in March 2019. At CinemaCon the following month, he stated the film was "still taking shape" and said it was difficult to discuss, as he hoped to maintain secrecy. Phillips also stated that most reports surrounding the film were inaccurate, which he felt was because it is "an origin story about a character that doesn't have a definitive origin". Brian Tyree Henry was also confirmed to have a role in the film. The visual effects were provided by Scanline VFX and Shade VFX and supervised by Matthew Giampa and Bryan Godwin, with Erwin Rivera serving as the overall supervisor.
On an Instagram post from Todd Phillips, he reveals a picture with the caption "Arthur," likely meaning the Joker's original name in the film will be Arthur.
There are at least 3 different types of "laughter", the joker: the "frail" laughter, the "one of the types" laughter and the "authentic joy" laughter at the end This is supposed to show a development, from the "normal" citizen to the insane criminal already known from the Batman films. At the same time, the development of the Joker should also be understandable in a certain sense.
Since the film's release, fans had ventured to New York City to visit the site, where the now-iconic scene of Arthur Fleck/Joker dancing on the flight of stairs was filmed. It is located at West 167th Street, which connects Shakespearan and Anderson Avenues.
Joaquin Phoenix is the seventh actor to portray Joker on the silver screen. He follows Cesar Romero (Batman (1966)), Jack Nicholson (Batman (1989)), Mark Hamill (Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)), Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight (2008)), Jared Leto (Suicide Squad (2016)), and Zach Galifianakis (The Lego Batman Movie (2017)).
This film is the first theatrical live-action Batman spin-off since Suicide Squad (2016).
The use of "Rock and Roll Part 2" by Gary Glitter within this film caused controversy shortly after the film's release due to the perceived possibility that Glitter, a convicted sex offender, might collect royalties from the song's use in the film. This concern was unfounded, though, since Glitter had long since sold the rights to the song's use; the US rights, as of the film's release, are held by the Universal Music Publishing Group.
Although this is Robert De Niro's first comic book movie, he was considered for the role of The Riddler in Batman Forever (1995).
While Joaquin Phoenix's performance is largely applauded, the film in itself has been criticized for its dark content and sympathetic tone towards the villain. Especially considering the shooting that took place in Aurora, Colorado during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises (2012). However, Warner Bros. tells critics, "Make no mistake: neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind. It is not the intention of the film, the filmmakers or the studio to hold this character up as a hero."
The film will reportedly feature a younger actor portraying the Joker and will be separate from the DC Extended Universe and be part of a new film label by DC Comics and Warner Bros. Joaquin Phoenix is only 2½ years younger than Jared Leto.
The "super-rats" segment on Murray Franklin's show and in the news references Ratcatcher, an obscure D-list villain who could mind control rats. The character is set to appear in James Gunn's The Suicide Squad (2021).
Sharon Washington's character is named Debra Kane as a tribute to Batman's creator Bob Kane.
Before filming, director Todd Phillips said that Joker's laughter should be almost painful. Joaquin Phoenix practiced many different kinds of laughter and "played" them for the director at his own request. The end result is a catchy as well as disturbing laugh.
Jimmy Kimmel Live! (2003) aired a clip of Joaquin Phoenix insulting cinematographer Lawrence Sher between takes. The actor struggled to get through a scene when he got distracted by the cinematographer whispering and joked that his surname sounds like the singer Cher.
Most of Arthur Fleck's onscreen clothes are deliberately unremarkable and functional, but his one suit comes out in pieces and parts throughout the early parts of the film. For example, Arthur Fleck wears a rust vest and jacket on his "date" with a friendly neighbor. The palette is outdated, more 70s than the 1981 colors in most of the film's clothes, fitting in with the concept of a character too poor to buy good clothes frequently. In the film's final scenes, Arther Fleck dons all of his brightest colors at once for his big night on the Murray Franklin show. The outfit, though loud, looks so natural in part because Fleck has worn most of its pieces onscreen over time.
Joaquin Phoenix said he did not refer to earlier interpretations of The Joker in developing his role. He wanted to create something of his own. He explained his decision at the Venice Film Festival press conference: "It was just something that felt like our creation, and that was really important to me."
At 5'10" ft (177 cm), Joaquin Phoenix is the second shortest actor to portray the Joker, next only to Jared Leto at 5'8" ft (173 cm).
Joaquin Phoenix is dating Rooney Mara, who was among the actresses considered to play The Joker's girlfriend, Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad (2016).
Todd Phillips originally wanted to shoot the film on 70 mm film cameras but had to abandon the idea due to the tight production budget. He ruled out standard RED digital cameras and 35mm film cameras too due to the number of close up shots planned, and to give the film an 'intimate', obtrusive feel. Phillips insistence on using large format cameras led Cinematographer Lawrence Sher to investigate using Arri Alexa 65 digital cameras as a compromise and in the end this is what was eventually used.
In the German version of the movie, all of Arthur's diary entries and his card explaining his illness are in German. This is rather unusual for a live-action film since it required producing extra props, and subsequently shooting them.
The film stayed on the top of the U.K.'s box office for 6 consecutive weeks which became the first film since Avatar (2009) to do so.
The story takes places in 1981, which is the same year Robert De Niro won an Academy Award for his role as Jake La Motta in Raging Bull (1980).
This is Frances Conroy's first live-action DC movie from a Batman villain since Catwoman (2004). She was also a voice actor in All-Star Superman (2011) and Superman: Unbound (2013).
The actor portraying Bruce Wayne played young Joe (Joaquin Phoenix's character) in You Were Never Really Here (2017).
There is a sign on the street for Puerto Rico right before the scene of the street musician playing the piano. Joaquin Phoenix was born in Puerto Rico.
Zazie Beetz and Brian Tyree Henry also co star in the FX's comedy drama show Atlanta (2016).
The film was released 30 years after Batman (1989) the first major theatrical film based on Batman-related properties. Both films prominently feature the Joker.
While being honored for his acting career and for this film at a film ceremony, Joaquin Phoenix stated in his speech that he owes his career to his late brother and fellow actor, River Phoenix. He stated that his brother came home one day from work with a copy of the film, Raging Bull (1980), which starred Robert De Niro, who will eventually become his future co-star in this film. Joaquin goes on to state that he was in his teens at the time and he had quit acting. River had him watch the film that evening and the next day. He stated that River encouraged him to not give up on acting.
The font used for the "Live with Murray Franklin" show title is the same font used for Batman: The Animated Series (1992). It's called Andes.
The film's $96 million opening weekend has beaten It Chapter Two (2019)'s $92 million weekend debut for the best opening weekend for an R rated movie in 2019. Both films are also distributed by Warner Brothers.
Bryan Callen has acted in 4 movies directed by Todd Phillips. Old School (2003), The Hangover (2009), The Hangover Part II (2011), and Joker (2019).
The role of Arthur Fleck, aka Joker, was realized taking into account the acting characteristics of Joaquin Phoenix. Phoenix received the script at the end of 2017. Even his mother had a say in deciding whether to join the big project or not. In retrospect, the decision was the right one for the role.
Joaquin Phoenix was Darren Aronofsky's choice to play Bruce Wayne/Batman in the Batman film he attempted to make in the early 2000s.
Arthur uses a .38 special 3rd Generation Colt Detective Special throughout the film. The same kind of gun was briefly used by Caesar Romero's Joker in season 2 of the 1966 series.
This is the second time Frances Conroy plays a mother who has a son obsessed with a TV personality: the first was in How I Met Your Mother (2005), where she plays Barney Stinson's mother, who is, in turn, obsessed with Bob Barker of contest-show The Price Is Right (1972); the second is in "Joker", where her son Arthur is obsessed with Murray Franklin.
A page in Arthur's journal, shows a drawing of a cat/woman hybrid using a ball of yarn as a whip a reference to Selina Kyle aka Catwoman.
Zazie Beetz has also been in a Marvel Comic book movie. She played Domino in Deadpool 2 (2018).
Joaquin Phoenix originally only signed on to do this one standalone film, as he did not want to be involved in a movie franchise. However such has the critical feedback it's popularity with audiences been, he has subsequently said (as of November 2019) he is not averse to the idea of considering doing a second film providing he is not expected to join the DCEU and any sequel has a similar feel and look like the first film.
After the film had reached $1 billion worldwide, director Todd Phillips thanked the fans for supporting the film on his Instagram account. Phillips created a 20-second video of various clips from the film with quotes from fans on Twitter in the style of a movie ad with quotes from critics.
The film's US release date happened to coincide with World Smile Day (October 4, 2019).
By the sixth week of its release, the film's $1.018 billion worldwide box office earnings had beaten The Dark Knight (2008)'s $1.008 billion worldwide box office record.
Sharp-eyed New York City lovers will recognize the Brooklyn Army Terminal's annex at Arkham State Hospital. The hospital is a recurring touchpoint for Arthur Fleck. Early conversations with his state-provided social worker indicate that he spent time in Arkham State Hospital for undisclosed misdeeds before the film began, and his mother's records there indicate that both members of the Fleck family have drifted in and out of the grim state-run facility.
Arthur's laughing fits often leave him struggling to breathe, similar to how Joker's laughing gas works.
Robert De Niro previously appeared in Heat (1995) opposite previous Batman actor Val Kilmer. The bank robbery in Heat (1995) was also the inspiration for the opening sequence of The Dark Knight (2008), with William Fichtner appearing in both movies. De Niro also turned down a role in The Departed (2006) that went to Jack Nicholson, who played The Joker in Batman (1989).
This film marks the second time that the character of The Joker has another name besides "The Joker" moniker. In Batman (1989), The Joker's real name is Jack Napier. In this film, The Joker's real name is Arthur Fleck. This shows that the character has many possible identities due to his mysterious past from the comics.
Martin Ballantyne, who portrayed Joker's Henchman in The Dark Knight (2008), expressed a preference to reprise his role for this film.
There's a pharmacy in the movie named Helms Pharmacy. Ed Helms starred as the character Stu in the The Hangover (2009) trilogy, which was also directed by Todd Phillips.
This is Bill Camp and Douglas Hodge's first collaboration since Red Sparrow (2018), which also starred Jeremy Irons who plays Alfred Pennyworth in the DCEU.
Jason Momoa, most famous for playing Arthur Curry/Aquaman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Justice League (2017) and Aquaman (2018), attended the premiere wearing a purple suit. In the original DC Comics Joker is always wearing a purple suit.
Director Todd Phillips stands to earn up to one hundred million dollars from this film due to his participation deal as the movie has now, as of November 2019, reached a worldwide box office cume of over one billion dollars.
The rich are shown watching Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times, a classic film to highlight how "cultured" they are to contrast the lower class rioters. Modern Times however, is entirely about the struggles of the poor and unemployed, with the elite in that film depicted with some scorn.
Jackson C. Frank's soulful folk song "My Name is Carnival" features in the soundtrack and is discussed in dialogue.
Arthur's utterly horrific knock-knock joke, has a very similar "punchline" to "Surprise! Your wife's dead and the baby's a spastic!"
Arthur's final Joker getup (slightly curly green hair, pointy smile makeup, green shirt collar and maroon suit) owes more to the Cesar Romero version than the usual bright-purple-and-orange comic book ensemble. Whether this is intentional or just outdoor lighting making red seem colder is unclear.
The theater marquee behind Arthur while he's spinning a sign displays the fictional movie "Strip Search". The logo used is an homage to the 1973 film "Fleshpot on 42nd Street", which uses the same bowtie design on its posters.
As the first R rated movie to earn $1 billion worldwide, the film peaked on the 44th spot on the list of films that made $1 billion or more worldwide. The film had since rose up to the 35th spot.
By its ninth week, the film had surpassed Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) domestically with $330.6 million. The latter film ultimately earned $330.3 million domestically.
Zazie Beetz also stars in Lucy in the Sky (2019), released the same day as this film.
This is Bill Camp's second comic book movie in 2019 since he was in The Kitchen (2019).
This film is the second R rated comic book-related film released in 2019. The first film is Hellboy (2019).
Joaquin Phoenix is the third live-action Joker, whose name starts with a "J", after Jack Nicholson and Jared Leto.
Gotham's car police serial number where Arthur is being transferred to the police station after Murray Franklin's killing is 9189. Exchanging the two first numbers it obtains "1989", when Batman (1989) was released.
Joaquin Phoenix was in Parenthood (1989) thirty years earlier alongside Dianne Wiest, who was in the movie The Lost Boys (1987) directed by Joel Schumacher, who also directed Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997).
Actress Jessica Chastain praised the film and Joaquin Phoenix's performance. Chastain was agreeing with Vincent D'Onofrio on Twitter when D'Onofrio championed Phoenix for major award recognition. He tweeted, "This young man deserves recognition for this performance." She tweeted back, "I agree. It's one of the greatest pieces of acting that I've ever seen. Mouth was dropped open in the theatre as it played. It left me shook."
The gang who accost Arthur while he's working his sign say something like, "If you're gonna be a clown, you could at least not be a fucking terrible clown". It is a very cruel thing to say to someone who was just minding his own business (and honestly putting on a bit of a show). But it also suits exactly what he turns into later into the film.
On Penny Fleck's psychiatry files from Arkham, it mentions her former doctor was Benjamin Stoner. In the comics, Stoner was one of the head doctors at Arkham Asylum who became an opponent of Doctor Fate known as Anti-Fate after being possessed by a Lord of Chaos.
In the beginning of the film, the news and Murray report on the recent outbreak of "Super Rats", once ordinary rodents that have grown larger, more dangerous and harder to kill due to the increased littering and deteriorating condition of Gotham, which could serve as a parallel to Arthur himself. He starts the film as another poor, scrounging face in the crowd looked down on by the rest of the world around him, but because of society's mistreatment Arthur evolves into the Joker. He becomes more dangerous, harder to kill and inspires a city-wide movement that makes him much larger than the nobody he was before. The brief appearances of Super Rats in the film could support this. One scurries past the payphone when Arthur is fired for bringing the gun to the hospital, which is immediately followed by him killing the three Wayne employees on the subway and the beginning of his journey to becoming the Joker. In the ending, some Super Rats are shown scurrying away from Bruce as he stands over his parents' bodies, possibly symbolising the threat that Bruce will eventually pose to Joker and the rest of Gotham's criminals. We also hear Murray sarcastically mocking one of the proposed solutions to the super rats on his show: super cats. The rats are created by the trash and by Gotham's decay and get hunted by the cats; supervillains like Joker get created by Gotham's decay and get hunted by superheroes like the Bat Family. Neither solution solves the underlying problem of why the rats are flourishing in the city.
Arthur Fleck (aka The Joker) can also be written as A. Fleck. Ben Affleck played Bruce Wayne/Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League.