Though it was first revealed two months ago that Warner Bros. is pursuing Joaquin Phoenix to play the Joker in one of several new movies to feature the different incarnations of the character, there still has been no official announcement from the studio about his casting in Todd Phillips‘ (The Hangover) planned “gritty and grounded hard-boiled crime film set in early-’80s Gotham City.”
Phoenix is not saying much either, telling Fandango in a recent interview in support of his new movie You Were Never Really There that “it could be an interesting character” but he doesn’t know if he will accept the role, if it is offered to him. He added that he is not “opposed” to appearing in a superhero movie and said he has even “flirted” with the idea before.
I don’t really care about the genre, I care about the character and the filmmaker. If you have the ability to transcend the genre, then that’s what you want to do. So I wouldn’t say, hands down, no – I wouldn’t do that kind of movie. There are things where I’ve flirted with the possibility where there was the potential for this to be… something that’s actually interesting to me. But then for whatever reason they never got to that place where everyone else feels the same way. And that’s key. Everyone has to want to explore the same thing or else it just doesn’t f*cking work. I’m not opposed to it. I don’t make decisions on budget or things like that – it’s really the filmmaker and the character.
With his background in absurdist comedy, Phillips initially seems an odd choice to direct a “gritty and grounded” movie about the Joker, but any lessons he needs to learn about depicting “hard-boiled crime” can be learned from the movie’s producer, Martin Scorsese. Unmoored from the current DC cinematic universe and with Phoenix in the title role, Joker could just be the movie that helps Warner Bros. “transcend the genre” once again like it did with Christopher Nolan‘s Dark Knight trilogy.
Phillips is writing the script with 8 Mile scribe Scott Silver. The movie does not yet have a release date.