Joaquin Phoenix plays Arthur Fleck, a clown-for-hire and stand-up comic in ‘Joker.’
WARNER BROS. PICTURES
Fresh footage arrived online Wednesday from the upcoming drama, which stars Joaquin Phoenix in a dark character study based on the infamous Batman comic-book villain.
“You don’t listen, do you? You just ask the same questions every week,” says wannabe standup and clown-for-hire Arthur Fleck (Phoenix), sneering at the counselor who tells him they won’t be meeting again. “How’s your job? Are you having any negative thoughts? All I have are negative thoughts.”
The new trailer teases Arthur’s path from failed comedian to facepainted menace, inspiring darkness in Gotham City and even requesting the name “Joker.” We also get a good look at Robert De Niro as a talk-show host who makes a public mockery of Phoenix’s character, Brett Cullen as Thomas Wayne (aka Batman’s dad), and Zazie Beetz (“Deadpool”) as a love interest for Arthur.
And as in the first trailer, Phillips wanted to show audiences the movie’s distinctive tone but also tread carefully, not revealing too much.
“It’s just a tough balance that I think every filmmaker deals with, not just this movie,” Phillips tells USA TODAY. “You’re fighting with the marketing department like, ‘Oh, do we really have to do that?’ But they’ve been making bold decisions from Day 1 at Warner Bros., even down to their marketing department. They get what the movie is.”
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Phoenix’s Arthur is “not necessarily the traditional Joker. And he’s not presented traditionally as the things that we’ve come to love about the Joker,” Phillips says. “This character has a different bent to him.”
The director also set “Joker” in an indeterminate time period reflective of the late 1970s and early ’80s to “present Gotham as this kind of broken-down city” as well as to “set it apart from the stuff that had been done, so we’re not compared to or held up to the comic-book movies of now, even where Joker appears.”
Phillips calls working with Phoenix on “Joker” the “greatest experience I’ve had making a movie.” The filmmaker loved how committed and serious the actor was, and reports they would often have long text or phone conversations at night after filming.
“It was just every day diving deeper and deeper into what it could be and realizing there really were no rules,” Phillips says. “As hard as it was to get the movie made, once we were making the movie, Warner let us do whatever we wanted with the character. So to have that sort of license, and the brain and talent of Joaquin, every day was beautiful on set.”
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