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Mostra del Cinema di Venezia

Joaquin Phoenix – Joker #Venezia76

todaySeptember 1, 2019

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Becoming Joker was liberating.

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    Joaquin Phoenix - Joker #Venezia76 Chiara Nicoletti

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PODCAST | Chiara Nicoletti interviews Joaquin Phoenix, actor of the film Joker.

Joaquin Phoenix is the absolute protagonist of Joker by Todd Philips, in competition at the 76th Venice International Film Festival. In the origin story of Batman principal antagonist, Phoenix portrays the evolution or involution of Arthur Fleck who, in a world that lacks of empathy, can’t find his place in despite putting always on his “happy face”. Phoenix reveals how he preferred to be Joker rather than Arthur Fleck as the former is constantly defeated by rules and constrictions while the latter is finally free to be whoever he wants: dancing, laughing out loud.

Joker centers around the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone fictional story not seen before on the big screen. Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck, who is indelibly portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, is of a man struggling to find his way in Gotham’s fractured society. A clown-for-hire by day, he aspires to be a stand-up comic at night… but finds the joke always seems to be on him. Caught in a cyclical existence between apathy and cruelty, Arthur makes one bad decision that brings about a chain reaction of escalating events in this gritty character study.


FRED Film Radio, this is Chiara Nicoletti
from the 76th Venice Film Festival.

I’m in the company of Joaquin Phoenix,
who’s the protagonist of "Joker". Welcome.

I want to start the debate
where I left it with Todd

and I want you to ask you
the same thing I asked him:

do you think that Arthur
turning into Joker

is a defeat or an evolution?
Because I couldn’t tell.

I’m still trying to make up my mind. And
I don’t wanna tell you what he answered.

Well, I don’t...

I understand you wanting to know it
from me, who plays the character,

but for me, I think the great joy
of the film for an audience,

and I hope that people are interested in seeing it,
is that they get to decide for themselves what that is.

That was what I was really attracted to.
Typically in most movies, and certainly in genre movies,

if you play a villain or a hero, the
motivation for that character’s very clear.

And what I liked about this is

I never was certain
of what was motivating him.

And I have my own opinion, I know what it is for me,
but I wouldn’t want to influence an audience on the movie.

So I hope you understand that.
- Yeah.

But I also think that it was difficult
for me and I think a lot of the audience,

to not feel empathetic with him.

Because, what would you do if you
had had that childhood?

That kind of life?
- Sure.

Yes, he’s acting badly, but still we’re under
antidepressants and so many pills, sometimes,

and we have a happy life.
And he didn’t.

How did you work on that grey area,
or colored, if you want to talk about Joker?

Look, it was a long process,
and the process of discovery,

of understanding him, or trying to,
didn’t stop once we started shooting,

it continued till the very last day.

He’s such a rich character,
there’s so much going on, that...

I never got to the point of feeling like
I knew who he was.

And that was kind of the joy of it.

It was... every day you feel like there was
something new to discover about the character,

a different color.

Thankfully it was something Todd
was interested in as well

and was very confident and comfortable

in kind of approaching it
in that way daily.

Also, he was very smart
as he set up the schedule

so as we had a lot of time,
so we would go on the set

and we would talk about a scene
for a couple hours and not shoot,

as we were trying to figure something out.

Sometimes we would start shooting a scene

and halfway through the day, after shooting for two hours,
he’d go: "I think we should go in a different direction,

this isn’t the right way
to do this scene",

and we were making adjustments.
We had the time to do that,

which I think was so integral
for this kind of character.

Why do you think Joker was always
a difficult character,

that everybody always said that once
you go deeper into that poker face of his

you couldn’t get out,
as an actor I mean.

To be honest, I thought it was
a great joy playing Joker.

To be honest, I prefer Joker over Arthur.

Arthur is the one that is so wound up and has
always suppressed emotions, he’s so tight.

The way he moves, everything was so uncomfortable
about him that I couldn’t stand it.

And Joker is... Joker was like total liberation,
you could do anything as an actor.

It’s something...

I had to go... I shot "Joker"
and the 7th week

we shot for five days
a sequence of Joker

and then we went back to playing Arthur.

I was like, I did not wanna do it,
I’ve got to be honest.

I thought it was the one
that I struggled with the most.

I like the idea of laughing,
when nobody would laugh.

- Yes, inappropriate laughter is great.
- I like that.

Thank you so much Joaquin Phoenix
for being with us for "Joker".

This is Chiara Nicoletti
from the 76th Venice Film Festival

for FRED, The Festival Insider.
- Thank you.

Written by: Chiara Nicoletti


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