Joaquin Phoenix wouldn’t be pressured following Heath Ledger’s take on DC’s Clown Prince of Crime if he ever takes on the lead role in the upcoming Joker origins movie. Directed by The Hangover helmer Todd Phillips while prolific filmmaker Martin Scorsese is being courted to produce, the movie will be a period piece set in the ’80s and will follow the Joker during his days as a struggling comedian.
The Joker origins film is not the first comic book film that Phoenix was attached to. For a time, he was one of Marvel Studios’ pick to play Doctor Strange, which as fans know, eventually landed on Benedict Cumberbatch’s lap. With the veteran actor’s chops and range, it’s undoubtedly curious to see what his approach to playing Joker would be. One thing’s for sure, however, if he signs on for the film, his take will be different from Heath Ledger’s critically-acclaimed portrayal of the same role in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.
Speaking with Collider while doing the promo rounds for his latest project, You Were Never Really Here, Phoenix was once again asked about rumors of him possibly playing the Joker in the DCEU-separate origins movie. While the 43-year-old reiterates that he’s unaware of such film, he commented on the possibility of him taking on the gig and making it his own. He explains that while he would practically be playing the same role, his take on the villain would undoubtedly be different from Ledger’s iconic iteration because comic book characters have always been open to interpretation depending on the writer, story, and actor.
“I don’t know about that movie or character specifically, but I was thinking about it’s interesting with comics there’s different writers and artists that come on. It’s different than this character from literature being uniquely that. There are different interpretations. It’s so interesting; I was just thinking about it today, it seems so unique in some ways to comic books. I think there’s probably room for that. Maybe it’s like doing a play, like you always hear about people doing something, ‘You should have seen this actor in this performance,’ but then other actors do it and it’s a different kind of film. I think that genre, comic books, kind of lends itself to having different people play the same character and interpret it in a different way. It’s kind of built into the source material in some ways. I think it’s cool when people do that.”
Phoenix continues to maintain that he doesn’t have personal knowledge of possibly playing the Joker in DC’s forthcoming Joker origins story. But considering him being more forthcoming regarding the matter, it’s difficult not to assume that he has at least heard about the gig and possibly even had talks with Warner Bros. or anyone else involved in the project. That’s not to say that he’s basically confirmed for the role, because other than rumors, there is currently no solid evidence that backs-up speculations. Nonetheless, with the film supposedly starting filming some time this May, Phillips, and Scorsese may already have their lead actor locked in and just waiting to be announced.
With the possibility of two separate versions of the Joker on the big screen around the same time (the other one being Jared Leto who’s set to reprise the role in Suicide Squad 2), it’ll be interesting how Warner Bros. will differentiate the iterations in a way that people won’t get confused which is which. Sure Phoenix and Leto will certainly be able to portray the role different from each other, but DC Films should be able to find a way to cook up very distinct narratives for the actors to be able to easily determine which one is part of the DCEU canon, and which one is basically a one-shot thing.
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