Frances McDormand has passed on playing the Joker's mom in DC's origin movie, but Warner Bros. remains committed to landing a big name to play the character. Reports that WB is working on a Joker origin film separate from the Justice League cinematic universe has been circulating since last summer. However, the news only became official this past week, when WB announced that Joaquin Phoenix (as rumored) will be playing the Clown Prince of Crime in the film.
Written by Scott Silver (8 Mile, The Fighter) and director Todd Phillips (The Hangover, War Dogs), the Joker origin movie reportedly takes place in the 1980s and has been described as a hard-boiled crime drama about a man "disregarded by society". The film is budgeted at $55 million and will kick-off an Elseworlds style banner featuring one-off DC movies that aren't canon to the Justice League films, when it begins shooting in September. However, just because the Joker origin movie is lower-budgeted and grittier, that doesn't mean WB isn't interested in assembling an A-grade ensemble around Phoenix.
According to The Wrap's Umberto Gonzalez, WB/DC want a "name" to play Phoenix's mom in the film and have already offered the role to McDormand, who passed (see the screenshot of his tweet below). The decorated thespian has not yet chosen a followup project to her Oscar-winning role in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, but it was recently rumored that WB was eying her to play a part in 2020's Godzilla vs. Kong. It's not impossible that the studio was really considering her for the Joker movie instead (if not both films).
An unofficial casting breakdown for the Joker movie includes a character named Penny, who is described as being a 60-74 year old woman in failing health and who shares her apartment with her grownup son (who just moved back home). That role certainly sounds like it could be the Joker's mom, and likewise makes sense for McDormand based solely on her age. Presumably, if WB and DC are looking at a big name star for the role, then it will be a significant one. Coincidentally, Phoenix only just played a troubled man who lives with his mother in Lynne Ramsay's drama/thriller You Were Never Really Here.
Given the pedigree of the creatives and cast involved, it shouldn't be long before the Joker origin movie finds a suitable candidate to play its protagonist's mom. Even so, it no doubt would have been interesting to see what McDormand might have done with the role, had she signed on. Indeed, even minor nuggets of information like this make this particular DC project an intriguing one to watch take shape, especially in light of what's happening in the larger world of comic book movies at the moment.
We will bring you more details on The Joker origin movie as they become available.
Source: Umberto Gonzalez