Joaquin Phoenix lost 52 pounds to play Arthur Fleck in DC's Joker, and it's a staggering transformation that we recently got to see play out in the final trailer for this upcoming DC thriller. Now Director Todd Phillips is weighing in on this villainous transformation.
Director Todd Phillips of The Hangover series fame, is perhaps not the obvious choice to bring a gritty, grounded take on Batman arch enemy the Joker to the big screen, but so far everything we have seen of this version of the iconic comic book character has suggested a very mature, nuanced look inside of the mind of the Clown Prince of Crime. Not least the headline star Joaquin Phoenix, who over the last decade has proven himself to be one of the greatest actors of his generation with breathtaking performances in the likes of Her, The Master and You Were Never Really Here.
In a recent interview, Todd Phillips has elaborated further on his star's dedication, explaining the actor lost a stomach-growling 52 pounds to better fit into the reddish-purple suit and white makeup. About this transformative role, Phillips had this to say about the character of Arthur Fleck and what his leading man brings to it.
"It really came from this idea: what if you just did a comic-book movie differently? We all grew up on these character studies and they're few and far between nowadays. So it was like, 'Let's do a deep dive on one of these guys in a real way.' No one is going to fly in it. No buildings are going to collapse. It's just going to be on the ground, so to speak."
The dramatic weight loss no doubt helped Joaquin Phoenix flesh out a complex character rather than a 'cartoon villain', and this ultimately drew him to the role. Phoenix says this, explaining that it was the character more than the story that got him interested.
"That's really the only thing that's worthwhile; the other thing is connect-the-dots and paint-by-numbers, and who the [heck] cares about that? There are certain areas of the character that frankly still aren't clear to me, and I'm fine with that. There's something enjoyable about not having to answer a lot of those questions. It requires a certain amount of participation from the audience that feels different."
Phoenix has often been sought after for comic book movie roles, including Marvel's Bruce Banner and Doctor Strange, with neither really appealing to the actor and his more serious sensibilities. Fortunately it was the slightly off-kilter take on the Joker that finally brought the actor into the comic book movie fray.
This different take on the Joker is set to change the character's origin, as well as avoid following the pages of the comic books, as it follows a failed comedian named Arthur Fleck, a very put-upon man who, disregarded by society, begins a slow descent into madness as he transforms into the costumed criminal mastermind we all know and love to loathe.
Despite the film having not even been released yet, Phillips is well aware of the Hollywood system, and is more than open to seeing another director's view on the classic character.
"That's the fun thing about these characters. In a way, comic books are our Shakespeare and just like there are many versions of Hamlet and Macbeth, they've done four or five versions of the Joker in the last 25 or 30 years. So why not do another one that's wildly different?"
Whether Phillips' own take on the Joker will laugh longest remains to be seen. This news comes from LA Times.