Joaquin Phoenix Says JOKER Won’t Go Easy On Its Audience

We believe him.

As of this writing, we are a mere 46 days away from the release of Todd Phillips' highly-anticipated, already-contentious, weirdo one-off of a supervillain movie, Joker. With the film landing in several prestigious film festivals (TIFF and Venice, if you're looking to book a flight) and folks who've seen it raving about Joaquin Phoenix's titular performance, there's reason to believe Joker might be something special.  

Unsurprisingly, Phoenix says Joker sorta had to be something special in order for him to take on the role. In a new interview with Total Film (as quoted by UPROXX), Phoenix explains the trepidation he felt taking on the role ("There’s the fear where you cannot make a fucking step, and there’s the kind where it’s like, ‘OK, what do we do?'"), and the complexity that drew him to this particular comic book movie:

“I think oftentimes, in these movies, we have these simplified, reductive archetypes, and that allows for the audience to be distant from the character, just like we would do in real life, where it’s easy to label somebody as evil, and therefore say, ‘Well, I’m not that.’ And yet we all are guilty. We all have sinned. And I thought that here was this film, and these characters, where it wouldn’t be easy for you as an audience. There are times where you’re going to feel yourself connected to him, and rooting for him, and times when you should be repulsed by him. And I like that idea of challenging the audience, and challenging myself to explore a character like that. It’s rare to explore characters like that in any movies, but specifically in the superhero genre.”

Well, it'll certainly be interesting to see how audiences react to this one. Joker's widely-leaked script has been read by a great number of people, and the conversations we've been having behind the scenes indicate that reactions to this one are going to be very strong, one way or another. If shot as written (which is, of course, far from guaranteed), it seems likely that Joker will inspire a cavalcade of takes, many of them utterly insufferable. You should probably go ahead and prepare yourselves for Maximum Discourse.

Anyway, we'll know how this thing's gonna shake out in just under two months. Anyone feel like making a prediction? Do so now in the comments below, and stay tuned for more on Joker as we approach the film's October 4th arrival in theaters.