Depending on who you ask, Todd Phillips’ Joker is either a cinematic triumph deserving of the many accolades it has already garnered (and more), a depressing sign of our times, or both. But in practically every single full review or tweeted comment that’s been made by those who’ve already seen it, one thing is clear: Joaquin Phoenix, who plays the iconic Clown Prince of Crime, knocks it out of the park. And as Phillips claims in a New York Times profile of the actor and his work, his dedication was so thorough that it sometimes left the other cast members baffled.
Like when Phoenix realizes his scene partners or the crew members weren’t as “prepared” as he was. As frequent collaborator James Gray explained, “He will know it, and he will let you know it. You have to do your homework.” In these instances, the actor would leave the Joker set mid-scene, though Phillips stressed that this wasn’t due to the other actors’ lack of preparedness:
“In the middle of the scene, he’ll just walk away and walk out,” Phillips said. “And the poor other actor thinks it’s them and it was never them — it was always him, and he just wasn’t feeling it.” And after taking a breather, he said, “we’ll take a walk and we’ll come back and we’ll do it.”
Fellow Joker player Robert De Niro — who plays a Johnny Carson-esque talk show host, not unlike the character played by Jerry Lewis in Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy — acknowledged that Phoenix could be “very intense.” However, the industry veteran stressed that, for a role like this, it was “as it should be.” In playing a part like Arthur Fleck, De Niro said, “There’s nothing to talk about, personally, on the side, ‘Let’s have coffee.’ Let’s just do the stuff.”
(Via New York Times)