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Top Phillips Had to Pursue Joaquin Phoenix for Months to Star in 'Joker'

The director also revealed that the actor lost his composure several times on set.


The screening of the film, Joker at the Venice Film Festival has created waves as much as the film continues to be talked about every single day. The official release of the film is in the first week of October but before that, we are coming across a lot of trivia from the making of the film every day.

The director of the film, Todd Phillips told New York Times on how pursuing Phoenix for the role of Joker was certainly not easy. 

"He was not keen on jumping into costume in any comic-book movie,” Phillips told the Times' Dave Itzkoff. “It’s not necessarily in his five-year plan — although I don’t think he has one.” When asked whether others were in mind for the role of Arthur Fleck, aka Joker, the writer-director replied, “We wrote the movie for Joaquin.”  It would take numerous visits with the three-time Oscar-nominee over about three months to get Phoenix on board with the R-rated take on the Warner Bros. property.

“I asked him to come over and audition me for it,” Phoenix told Itzkoff. “It wasn’t an easy decision, but he kept saying, ‘Let’s just be bold. Let’s do something.’”

Phillips recalled, “I kept waiting for him to just say, ‘OK, I’m in,’ And he never did that.” Where Phoenix is concerned, he said, “You just never get a yes. All you get is more questions.”

The duo said their disagreements about the character were aplenty, such as Joker's body type, according to the profile.

Phoenix saw him as a heavier man, Phillips wanted him drastically thin. The writer-director won. Phoenix lost 52 pounds for the part.

“It’s a horrible way to live,” Phoenix said of considerable weight loss for a role, which he had done numerous times.

Phoenix also revealed that he did not know how serious fans and the media took the role being played, calling himself “blissfully naive, according to the Times.

“This is a really big deal,” adding, “I’m so, like, not in the game that I didn’t know people would do this.”

Once work was underway, Phoenix held himself to a tremendous standard and there were moments when the actor lost his composure on the set.

“In the middle of the scene, he’ll just walk away and walk out,” Phillips told the newspaper. “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.” And after taking a breather, he said, “we’ll take a walk and we’ll come back and we’ll do it.”

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