Joaquin Phoenix claims he really started to go mad preparing for Joker role. The three time Oscar nominated star has a history of losing himself in roles, particularly in past films such as Walk the Line, where he played country music legend Johnny Cash, and in 2010’s I’m Still Here, in which he faked his retirement from acting in order to concentrate on a rap career.
Now with his latest role in Todd Phillip’s Joker getting plenty of attention as a result of its recent Venice Film Festival premiere, fans are growing increasingly anxious to see exactly what Phoenix has to offer when the film is officially released next month. There’s a particular feeling of excitement attached to the film as it interprets the origin of the iconic DC Comics villain in a way that’s never been done before on the big screen. Free from the trappings of a comic book movie, Phillips set out to explore the psychology of Arthur Fleck (Phoenix), the man otherwise known as the Joker. The film follows Fleck as he cares for his ailing mother and struggles with a stand up comedy career that appears to be going nowhere fast. There are no battles with superheroes or vats of acid to transform Fleck into the villain we all know - instead, Joker aims for a straightforward examination of the famed madman.
Regardless of Phillip’s efforts to create a different kind of origin film, however, the role of the Joker is a notoriously seductive one, in that it always seems to make a significant impact on the actors who portray him. Though it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s familiar with Phoenix’s work that he fully immersed himself in this role, a new interview with ET Canada reveals that the 44-year-old star lost so much weight in order to portray the titular character that he actually started to go mad. Speaking with ET, Phoenix spoke about the role, saying:
“The first thing was the weight loss, that’s really what I started with. As it turns out, that impacts your psychology, and you really start to go mad when you lose that much weight in that amount of time. There’s also a book about political assassins that I thought was interesting, and breaks down the different types of personalities that do those sorts of things [I do in the film].”
Phoenix lost an astonishing 52 pounds for the role, transforming himself into the waifish psychological wreck we see onscreen. He's the latest respected actor to take on the role, with the late Heath Ledger even taking home an Oscar for his performance as the character in director Christopher Nolan's 2008 Batman film, The Dark Knight. Jack Nicholson played the Clown Prince of Crime prior to that in Tim Burton's 1989 Batman, while Jared Leto brought the character to life in 2016's Suicide Squad (and took extreme measures of his own to prepare for the role).
There has been significant talk as of late regarding Phoenix’s Oscar potential for his work as the Joker. And while there does seem to be ample reason why people would already be making that wager, there is also the danger of overhyping the role too early on. The film has yet to be widely released, and although Phoenix’s weight loss is a feat in itself, losing a large amount of weight and supposedly going mad do not necessarily equal an Oscar worthy performance. One would hope that there’s more to acting than that. But of course, Joker is showcasing a very strong trajectory at the moment, meaning that anything at all is possible.
Source: ET Canada
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019