Joaquin Phoenix Reveals The Surprising Inspiration For His 'Joker' Laugh

Joker won't be your average comic book movie. The upcoming Todd Phillips film is taking a much different approach to the Batman character – aiming for an R-rating, playing the festival circuit, and already generating awards season buzz. Whether or not the movie will live up to this hype remains to be seen, but you can be confident in star Joaquin Phoenix's abilities. Phoenix is one of the best actors working today, and he clearly took this role seriously. Case in point: the actor recently revealed that rather than just adopt a generic maniacal laugh for his Clown Prince of Crime, he actually researched a specific mental condition to emulate.

I remain a little uneasy about Joker. The trailer looked promising, but I've heard some details about the film's story that has me a little skeptical of how this will all turn out. That said, even if Joker ends up being a bust, Joaquin Phoenix is likely to turn in a memorable performance. Phoenix has quickly risen to be one of the best actors working right now (see his work in The Master and You Were Never Really Here for poof), and I'm genuinely curious to see what he does with this part. The actor spoke with Italian magazine Il Vernerdi and provided some insight into how seriously he took this role.

Phoenix could've simply adopted a generic laugh for his character, but instead did some research to create something unique. "I saw videos showing people suffering from pathological laughter, a mental illness that makes mimicry uncontrollable." This disorder, called Pathological Laughter or Crying, is indeed real. Here are the symptoms (via the Mayo Clinic):

The cardinal feature of the disorder is a pathologically lowered threshold for exhibiting the behavioral response of laughter, crying, or both. An affected individual exhibits episodes of laughter and/or crying without an apparent motivating stimulus or in response to stimuli that would not have elicited such an emotional response before the onset of their underlying neurologic disorder. In some patients, the emotional response is exaggerated in intensity but is provoked by a stimulus with an emotional valence congruent with the character of the emotional display.

Will Phoenix's medical-related approach to the character work? We'll know very soon as the film starts playing the festival circuit next month, and the first reactions start flooding in. Joker opens October 4, 2019.