Joaquin Phoenix On Playing The Joker And How It Scares The Sh*t Out Of Him

Although his name has been attached to Todd Phillips' Joker movie for months, Joaquin Phoenix was by no means a sure thing. He's been up for comic book movies in the past, most notably Marvel's Doctor Strange, and it's never worked out. That's over now with Warner Bros. greenlighting the origin story for Batman's greatest nemesis, in the process confirming Phoenix's casting.

So what won Phoenix over this time? After playing coy for so long he actually opened up a little bit to Collider, and revealed the role terrified him so much he had to take it....

“I take a lot of time and consideration when making decisions and what I’m gonna work on always. So, in some ways, the process, which is obviously reading a script and meeting a filmmaker and then continuing to have meetings and discussions with Todd [Phillips]. I think he’s very impressive and he seems to have a very interesting understanding of this world and what he’s trying to say. And so there is something very appealing about that and working with him on this particular project. It feels unique, it is its own world in some ways, and maybe, mostly, it scares the [frick]ing shit out of me or something. It might as well be the thing that scares you the most.”

He adds that another factor in his decision was a desire to star in a lower budgeted comic book film, one with a singular focus...

"Three or four years ago, I called my agent and said ‘Why don’t they want to take one of these characters and just make a lower budget film about it, a movie but a character study, and why not take one of the villains?’ And I thought, ‘You can’t do the Joker, because, you know, it’s just you can’t do that character, it’s just been done.’ So I was trying to think of other characters, and he said ‘I’ll set up a general meeting with Warner Bros.’ And I said ‘I’m not gonna go, I can’t go to a general meeting.’ So I completely forgot about it, and so then I heard about this idea, I was like, ‘Oh that’s so exciting, that’s the kind of experience I wanted to have, with a movie based on a comic character.’ I felt like you could get something on screen.”

While the prospect of Phoenix playing the Joker is exciting, having multiple Joker movies with different actors (Jared Leto's version is still out there) isn't an idea that fans have taken to yet. For Phoenix, he doesn't sees the film as different from anything else Warner Bros. is doing, and that seems to be a big part of the attraction...

"I think, underneath the excitement of these films, and the size of them, there are these incredible characters that are dealing with real life struggles. And sometimes that is uncovered and exposed, and sometimes it isn’t, and so I always felt, like, there were characters in comics that were really interesting and deserve the opportunity to be kind of studied. And so I think that’s what Todd sees appealing about this idea."

Hopefully more details emerge in the coming days, especially if Phoenix shows up at Comic-Con for the big Warner Bros. panel.