Joaquin Phoenix walks out of Joker interview when asked about violence

Joaquin Phoenix walks out of interview when asked if his new film Joker might incite violence

  • The actor, 44, was talking with The Telegraph film critic Robbie Collin
  • He left the room rather than answer a direct question about whether he worries the R-rated movie could ‘inspire’ those who might empathize with character
  • In Joker he plays a failing stand-up comic who descends into madness and takes his grievances out on society 
  • The origin story of Batman’s nemesis is directed by Todd Phillips
  • The film, which opens October 4, won the top prize at Venice Film Festival 

His performance in Joker, which won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival a couple of weeks ago, has him tipped for awards glory.

But Joaquin Phoenix appears uncomfortable with talking about the movie’s violent content that goes along with the backstory of how Batman’s nemesis came to be.

The actor, 44, walked out of an interview with The Telegraph’s film critic Robbie Collin rather than answer a direct question about whether Joker might incite violence.

Left the room: Joaquin Phoenix walked out of an interview with Telegraph film critic Robbie Collin after being asked if he worried his new R-rated film Joker might incite violence

In his account of the incident published in the British newspaper last Friday, Collin writes that he asked Phoenix if he worries that his character might ‘perversely end up inspiring exactly the kind of people it’s about, with potentially tragic results.’ 

After a long pause, Phoenix replied, ‘Why? Why would you…? No, no,’ and then got up and left the room.

According to The Telegraph, he returned an hour later after consulting with a press rep for Warner Bros., the studio releasing the Todd Phillips-directed feature.

He explained that he had panicked and that he had never thought about the question of the R-rated film inspiring others to act out.


Origin story: In Joker, Phoenix plays struggling stand-up comic Arthur Fleck who, after being ignored by society, descends into madness, wreaking havoc in Gotham City

Flummoxed: Asked if he worries his character might ‘end up inspiring exactly the kind of people it’s about, with potentially tragic results,’ he replied, ‘Why? Why would you…? No, no’

In Joker, Phoenix plays struggling stand-up comic Arthur Fleck who, after being ignored by society, descends into madness, turning to violent crime and wreaking havoc in Gotham City.

But despite the film’s gritty realism, Phoenix seems unwilling or unprepared to deal with the violent nihilistic nature of the Joker when asked about it.

Instead, he punts it to the audience to make up their minds about whether to have empathy for Fleck and his transformation. 

‘In most movies, certainly in genre movies where there is a hero and the villain, the motivations of the character are clear. What I like about this is that I was never certain what was motivating him,’ the actor told press at the Venice Film Festival, per IndieWire.

‘I have my own opinion. I think I know what it is for me. But I wouldn’t want to impose on anyone who hasn’t seen the movie,’ he said.

Pulls no punches: Joker director Todd Phillips, pictured with Phoenix in Paris on Monday, said he had ‘tried to paint (the violence in the movie) with as realistic brush as possible’

Director Phillips has described it as a character study and that he drew on Martin Scorcese’s iconic movies Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. 

He told the AP earlier this month that he had been ‘very careful’ about how the violence in the movie was portrayed. 

‘A lot of people think it is going to be a really violent movie,’ he said.

‘Why it might affect you is we tried to paint it with as realistic brush as possible so when it comes it can feel like a punch in the stomach.’

Joker opens in theatres on October 4.

Getting noticed: Phoenix’s performance in Joker, which won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival a couple of weeks ago, has him tipped for awards glory this Oscar season

 

 

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