Joker is still a force to be reckoned with at the box office and Joaquin Phoenix is still receiving praise. Apparently, some of the best scenes in the movie were done by Phoenix on his own without telling anyone beforehand. Phoenix has been hailed as a great actor for years now, but his role as the Clown Prince of Crime has seemingly brought him to a new level as more people catch on to his skills. Todd Phillips was well aware of this talent, which is why he wanted to work with Phoenix so bad on the project.
As Arthur Fleck slowly starts to go off the rails, he needs a moment to himself during a bout with insomnia. In this particular Joker scene, Joaquin Phoenix begins to take everything out of the refrigerator in Arthur Fleck's darkened kitchen. He continues to take everything out until he can fit inside and close the door. According to Joker cinematographer Lawrence Sher, nobody, not even Todd Phillips knew that was going to happen. Sher had this to say.
"While some scenes were very planned out, like when he's in the phone booth or walking up the stairs, others had no plan at all. When he climbed in the refrigerator, we had no idea he was going to do that. We set up two camera positions, and Joaquin just thought about what he would do if he was a massive insomniac. Again, we lit it so he could go anywhere, and the first and only time he did it, we were mesmerized. I remember thinking, 'What is he doing? Did he just crawl in the fridge?' It was as fun and weird for us to watch it, too."
Todd Phillips previously revealed that Joaquin Phoenix improvised the bathroom dance scene after he kills the men on the subway. The original scene from the Joker script had Arthur Fleck talking to himself in the mirror, but was changed when Phoenix suggested they try something else out. From that scene, more and more kept coming from Phoenix. Lawrence Sher had this to say about that pivotal moment in the filmmaking process.
"Joaquin created that whole dance and, after the success of that scene, we started creating more moments like that. Like when he's playing with the gun and fires it into the wall. All we knew was that he'd fire the gun into the wall at some point, but we never planned when or knew that he'd stand and have that conversation with himself and begin dancing. We just had two cameras in there and let it happen, which became a major part of how we did a lot of things."
It's beginning to click as to how seriously Joaquin Phoenix takes his parts. It has been reported more than once that he left the set, only to come back and nail a performance. He needs to be in a certain place in his head to be able to get comfortable enough to be Arthur Fleck for that moment in time in front of the cast and crew, which does not sound easy, especially when improvising.
Joker has been hailed as the best comic book movie of 2019 by many fans of the genre, though there are still some who would vehemently disagree after such a stellar year from Marvel Studios. Whatever the case may be, Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix put a lot of work into the movie not being like anything else, and to some, they succeeded. The interview with Lawrence Sher was originally conducted by Slash Film.