Shea Whigham has revealed some details about his character in the Joaquin Phoenix-headlined Joker movie. The film takes place in 1980s Gotham City and explores what the Clown Prince of Crime's life was like, back when he was simply a failed comedian named Arthur (Phoenix). Production has been underway on the DC comic book adaptation for more than a month now, with Todd Phillips (The Hangover trilogy, War Dogs) calling the shots from an original script that he cowrote with Scott Silver (The Fighter).
Since Joker doesn't take place in DC's Justice League movie continuity (aka. the DC Extended Universe), its doesn't have to adhere to the larger established DC cinematic canon and, thus, can be something of an Elseworlds-style standalone film. That also makes it difficult to say exactly what will and won't happen in the movie, seeing as Phillips and Silver's screenplay doesn't have to adhere to any of the traditional elements of the Batman mythos. There are also a whole lot of never-before-seen characters in Joker, including the (now, somewhat less mysterious) cop that Whigham is playing.
During an interview with Collider to promote the Amazon Prime series Homecoming, Whigham shed some light on his Joker role. In addition to describing the filming process as "intense", Whigham praised the "amazing" Joker script and revealed the following tidbits about his character in the movie:
“I’ll say this, Bill Camp, from The Night Of, is one of our great actors. He’s finally getting his due. He and I play two cops from Gotham P.D., in 1981 when the city was tough. We’re investigating something that’s just happened, at the start of the piece. We’re trying to get to the bottom of it, and it leads to where it leads to..."
Whigham, for his part, is a highly prolific character actor who can currently be seen on the big screen in the films Bad Times at the El Royale and First Man, and has his roles in Homecoming and Adam McKay's Dick Cheney biopic Vice still to come, later this year. All the same, he admitted to Collider that his time making Joker has already been something special, compared to his previous experiences working on a variety of movie and television productions:
"You know, it’s rare that I’ve been on a set where it feels like it crackles. It’s pretty amazing... I want to have an experience. I don’t call it a job. I don’t say that I have a job. I have a gig, or a piece, or a film, or a show, but it’s never a job . . . We’re having an experience on Joker.”
Indeed, the more and more that's revealed about the film, the clearer it becomes that Phoenix wasn't kidding when he indicated that his intention is to make a truly unique comic book adaptation with Joker. The film's set photo leaks have painted a similarly intriguing, if also confusing, portrait of the movie itself, whether it's a photo that shows the Adam West Batmobile on-set or images that suggest Brett Cullen's Thomas Wayne is Arthur's biological father in the film. At the very least, it should be pretty interesting to see how, exactly, these (seemingly) incongruous puzzle pieces fit together in Joker, Whigham's Gothem police officer included.
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