Joaquin Phoenix solidified his status as one of the most talented actors in the world right now with a fantastic performance in Todd Phillips’ 2019 film Joker. In an Academy Award-winning turn, Phoenix perfectly captured the psychological destabilisation of a tortured antagonist who lashes out at societal neglect by staging an anarchical revolution.
“There’s so many different ways of looking at it,” Phoenix said of the Arthur Fleck/Joker character. “You can either say here’s somebody who, like everybody, needed to be heard and understood and to have a voice. Or you can say this is somebody that disproportionately needs a large quantity of people to be fixated on him. His satisfaction comes as he stands in amongst the madness.”
As was expected, Joker faced a lot of backlash from many critics for its portrayal of a volatile man. They accused Joker of glorifying “incel culture” by transforming an incel into a revolutionary figure, an analysis that was mocked and ridiculed by many fans on the internet. Director Todd Phillips insisted that the current climate of censorship was terribly tragic.
“Go try to be funny nowadays with this woke culture,” Phillips commented. “There were articles written about why comedies don’t work anymore—I’ll tell you why, because all the fucking funny guys are like, ‘Fuck this shit, because I don’t want to offend you.’ It’s hard to argue with 30 million people on Twitter. You just can’t do it, right?”
Adding, “So you just go, ‘I’m out.’ I’m out, and you know what? With all my comedies—I think that what comedies in general all have in common—is they’re irreverent. So I go, ‘How do I do something irreverent, but fuck comedy? Oh I know, let’s take the comic book movie universe and turn it on its head with this.’ And so that’s really where that came from.”
In a recent interview, Phoenix claimed that there was a lot left to explore with Joker: “I mean, I dunno. From when we were shooting, we started to —you know, uhh, this is an interesting guy. There are some things we could do with this guy and could [explore] further. But as to whether we actually will? I don’t know.”
Phoenix is back with a brand new project by A24 called C’mon C’mon which stars Phoenix as an artist who embarks on a cross country journey with his young nephew (Woody Norman). Watch the trailer for C’mon C’mon below.