Joaquin Phoenix And Robert DeNiro Clashed On Joker Set Over Rehearsals

by : Emma Rosemurgey on : 11 Apr 2020 18:37
Joaquin Phoenix And Robert DeNiro Clashed On Joker Set Over RehearsalsPA/Warner Bros.

There’s no denying Todd Phillips’ Joker took a lot of hard work and determination to craft it into the box office smash hit it was.

Behind the scenes, however, things didn’t go quite as smoothly as you might think, as it’s been revealed Robert De Niro and Joaquin Phoenix came to blows during rehearsals, for one very specific reason.


Phoenix’s portrayal of Arthur Fleck was undeniably brilliant – so much so that it earned him an Oscar – but the film still wouldn’t be what it is without some incredible supporting roles.

Joaquin Phoenix And Robert DeNiro Clashed On Joker Set Over RehearsalsWarner Bros.

Robert De Niro portrayed Murray Franklin’s antagonistic relationship with Fleck so well, it’s not actually so surprising they disagreed in real life.

The argument specifically relates to the film’s table read, which is when the cast and crew read through the entirety of the script so that everyone is aware of the full story, and not just their own scenes.


According to reports in GQ, while Phoenix doesn’t like to do table reads, De Niro is said to have demanded one.

This is because Phoenix’s method uses his own anxiety to fuel his acting, and therefore feeds from spontaneity – something that directly conflicts with rehearsing and reading through lines.

Joaquin Phoenix And Robert DeNiro Clashed On Joker Set Over RehearsalsWarner Bros.

De Niro reportedly told Todd Phillips:


Tell him he’s an actor and he’s got to be there. I like to hear the whole movie and we’re going to all get in a room and just read it.

While Phoenix is believed to initially have told Phillips, ‘There’s no f*cking way I’m doing a read through,’ the actor did eventually agree to a read-through at De Niro’s company office.

We can assume that to conserve his creative energies, Phoenix won’t have been putting his best efforts in.

De Niro is said to be Phoenix’s favourite American actor though, so perhaps that contributed towards his decision to go ahead with the read-through after all.


Anyway, one thing we can be certain of is that it didn’t affect the quality of Phoenix’s portrayal – and he’s got the Oscar to prove it.

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Emma Rosemurgey

Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.

Topics: Celebrity, Joaquin Phoenix, Joker, Robert De Niro, Warner Bros


  1. GQ

    How Joaquin Phoenix became cinema's great anxiety artist