joker changes

Joker is now in theaters, and people can’t stop talking about it. The film is polarizing, to say the least, with many concerned about the movie’s dark message, and others arguing that it’s just not even that great a movie. No matter how dark and divisive Joker is now, it could’ve turned out a lot differently, according to star Joaquin Phoenix. To hear Phoenix tell it, the movie – and the main character – underwent several radical changes weeks into shooting.

Boy, that Joker sure is twisted! He’s so twisted that he changed his own movie as it was filming! During an interview with  on the Reel Blend podcast (via Collider), the Joker himself, AKA Joaquin Phoenix, revealed that the dark and violent Todd Phillips movie underwent extensive changes long after filming began:

“The freedom that we had from Warner Bros. to kind of shoot it and discover it was really key. Moreso than you might imagine, because there were some really radical changes to the character several weeks into shooting… It’s always the case when you make movies, you start off in this vacuum, you’re alone in a house and you’re reading through the script and you start imagining things and you start playing with it and rehearsing with yourself, and I think it always evolves.”

According to Phoenix he “had an idea” for something after production had begun, and that he “just started going down a particular road with Arthur with approaching that character and his behavior, and it was based on a reference that I had found, this kid that is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, and it was really interesting in a particular way of behaving, which I thought was applicable.”

As filming progressed, Phoenix took director Todd Phillips aside to voice his concerns about the approach to the character, particularly in appearance and body language:

“Todd and I got together and we talked about everything we shot, and I just said, ‘I think that we’ve been missing something, and I feel like we’re going down a road that seems wrong in both the look, the hair is wrong, the way I’m wearing the wardrobe is wrong, and a lot of the behavior.’ So we kind of, in that moment and over that weekend, kind of reconceived the character and kind of realized the mistakes we had made.”

“There are just some things that you can’t anticipate, and I think especially with this character it’s just alive in a way that other characters aren’t, and you can’t put your finger on it,” Phoenix added. “It was a wild process. I’ve never experienced anything quite like that.”

However wild the process may have been, it clearly paid off. Because when it comes to Joker, the one thing everyone seems to agree on is Phoenix’s performance. –even detractors of the film admit that the actor turns in a stunning performance as the Clown Prince of Crime.

Joker is now playing in theaters everywhere.

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