Joaquin Phoenix Opens Up About His "Unique" Joker Movie

Joaquin Phoenix is arguably the best actor of his generation. But it turns out that even he can get get scared at the prospect of a comic book movie and taking on the role of an iconic Batman villain. With the three-time Oscar nominee officially on board to star as the Clown Prince of Crime in a Joker prequel film directed by The Hangover's Todd Phillips, Phoenix is opening up on why he's taking this role and what sets it apart from other comic book movies.

Phoenix has played kings, assassins, and music legends. And now, in an extensive interview with Collider, Phoenix opened up on playing the one of the iconic villains in existence. "I take a lot of time and consideration when making decisions and what I'm gonna work on always," Phoenix said. And the reason that he ultimately decided to play the Joker was because it scared him:

"[T]here is something very appealing about... working with [Todd Phillips] on this particular project. It feels unique, it is its own world in some ways, and maybe, mostly, it scares the fucking shit out of me or something. It might as well be the thing that scares you the most."

It was that fear that finally got him on board to play a comic book character — a genre that he's been flirting with for the past decade. At one point, he was in talks to star in Doctor Strange. And Phoenix revealed to Collider that he's genuinely wanted to play a comic book character for years now, but it took Phillips' unique take on the Batman villain to get him to sign on:

"Three or four years ago, I called my agent and said 'Why don't they want to take one of these characters and just make a lower budget film about it, a movie but a character study, and why not take one of the villains?' And I thought, 'You can't do the Joker, because, you know, it's just you can't do that character, it's just been done.' So I was trying to think of other characters, and he said 'I'll set up a general meeting with Warner Bros.' And I said 'I'm not gonna go, I can't go to a general meeting.' So I completely forgot about it, and so then I heard about this idea, I was like, 'Oh that's so exciting, that's the kind of experience I wanted to have, with a movie based on a comic character.' I felt like you could get something on screen."

But despite Phoenix's high pedigree and pitch-perfect casting for the part, this Joker origin film has mostly been met with bemusement. Why another Joker movie when the greatest appeal of the character is his mystery? But Phoenix is confident in this film because it's unlike any Joker movie we have gotten or will get in the future. "I wouldn't quite classify this as like any genre," Phoenix said. "I wouldn't say it's a superhero movie, or a studio movie or a ... It feels unique, and I think more then anything, and probably the most important thing, is Todd seems very passionate about it and very giving, and so that's exciting."

There's no release date for the Joker movie yet, but the film will reportedly start shooing in September. We may see Phoenix in the iconic purple suit and Cheshire smile as soon as 2019.