Joaquin Phoenix was fearful of taking on villainous Joker role


Joaquin Phoenix had reservations about playing the iconic Batman villain in Joker.

Director Todd Phillips’ upcoming movie tells the origin story of failed stand-up comedian Arthur Fleck, who is mentally ill and disregarded by society, before he turns to a life of crime and chaos in Gotham City, becoming supervillain, the Joker.

In a new interview with Total Film magazine, three-time Oscar nominee Phoenix admitted he was hesitant about joining the superhero genre in a role that had been made famous by the likes of Heath Ledger, and Jared Leto.

“It took me a while (to commit). Now, when I look back, I don’t understand why,” he told the publication. “There was a lot of fear, yeah. But I always say there’s motivating fear and debilitating fear.

“There’s the fear where you cannot make a f**king step, and there’s the kind where it’s like, ‘OK, what do we do? That’s not good enough.’ And you’re digging deeper and deeper. I love that kind of fear. It guides us, makes us work harder.”

Phillips‘ movie ignores the comics for a more intimate character study of Fleck/Joker than the typical entry in the superhero genre.

The Walk the Line star added: “I think 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.'”

Joker will debut at the Venice International Film Festival (August 31, 2019) ahead of an October release.