Joaquin Phoenix is getting rave reviews for his role as Batman’s arch-nemesis Joker in the spinoff film of the same name. The film Joker has been directed by Todd Phillips and written by Phillips and Scott Silver. The film received an eight-minute standing ovation after it was premiered at the Venice Film Festival recently. Phoenix who is the fourth actor to play the iconic villain has said that he stayed away from taking cues from other portrayals and tried to develop his own performance.
After the premiere at Venice, Phoenix said he wasn’t inspired by previous depictions of the Joker. He said, “For me the attraction to make this film was we were going to approach it in our own way. I didn't refer to any past iterations of (the Joker). It just felt like our own creations, which was really important to me and the key to it. I wanted the freedom to create something that wasn't identifiable. This is a fictional character, and I didn't want a psychiatrist to be able to identify the kind of person he was. We were getting into medication and what issues he might have, but (I thought) let's step away from that. We want to have the room to create what we want.”
Phoenix revealed that the first preparation for the role was the physical transformation he underwent to get into the character’s mindset. He said, “We would get close at times where I found that I would identify certain parts of his personality or his motivation and then I would back away from that because I wanted there to be a mystery to 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.”
He also spoke about Joker’s enigmatic laugh and said that he broke it down in three types, “The affliction laugh, one of the guys laugh and the authentic joy laugh. It's 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. 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.”
Before Phoenix, the iconic villain’s character has been played by Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and Jared Leto. Several critics have called for an Oscar nod for Phoenix’s performance in Joker. The actor has already been nominated for an Oscar three times before too. Joker also featured Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Brian Tyree Henry and Marc Maron and hits theatres on October 4.