It took the Joker director four months to convince Joaquin Phoenix to take on the starring role but once he was on board the actor committed to the character and lost a lot of weight to play him.
The movie isn’t set to be released until later this year but fans first got a glimpse of the actor’s weight loss in paparazzi photos taken before filming began last year.
His slim frame is also unmissable in the Joker trailers, which show Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck living as a struggling comedian in Gotham City in the 1980s.
One scene shows the actor shirtless and hunched over while holding a clown shoe, with his spine clearly visible against his skin. Another clip has Phoenix stood in a living room with his arms above his head and his ribs sticking out in an alarming contrast with his small stomach.
According to the LA Times, director Todd Phillips said Phoenix had lost 52lbs (3st 7lbs) for the role.
Co-star Zazie Beetz spoke to MTV about the actor’s weight loss, explaining the film was rewritten as they were filming but Phoenix’s changing appearance meant they weren’t able to re-shoot scenes at a later date.
— MTV NEWS (@MTVNEWS) January 26, 2019
We had to do everything then because Joaquin had lost so much weight that we couldn’t do re-shoots later.
The Joker is a character we’ve seen time and again in pop culture but Phoenix was intrigued by the idea of creating a complex and in-depth version of the villain through the role of Arthur.
The actor commented:
That’s really the only thing that’s worthwhile… There are certain areas of the character that frankly still aren’t clear to me, and I’m fine with that.
There’s something enjoyable about not having to answer a lot of those questions. It requires a certain amount of participation from the audience that feels different.
He went on to speak about his approach to the character which so many have played before him.
The Her actor continued:
All I can do is approach the character the way I do and that’s it. I just tried to do something that we felt was honest and unique.
Phillips’ creation has been rated R in the US for ‘strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language, and brief sexual images’, though the UK BBFC rating hasn’t yet been confirmed.
It will be awesome to see Phoenix’s character come to life in the full feature, especially after he’s shown such commitment to the role.
Joker is set to be released in cinemas on October 4.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.