Depending on who you ask, Todd Phillips’ Joker is either a cinematic triumph deserving of the many accolades it has already garnered and more, a depressing sign of our times, or both. But in practically every single full review or tweeted comment that’s been made by those who’ve already seen it, one thing is clear: Joaquin Phoenix, who plays the iconic “Clown Prince of Crime,” knocks it out of the park. And as Phillips claims in a New York Times profile of the actor and his work, his dedication was so thorough that it sometimes left the other cast members baffled.
Like when Phoenix realizes his scene partners or the crew members weren’t as “prepared” as he was. As frequent collaborator James Gray explained, “He will know it, and he will let you know it. You have to do your homework.” In these instances, the actor would leave the Joker set mid-scene, though Phillips stressed that this wasn’t due to the other actors’ lack of preparedness:
“In the middle of the scene, he’ll just walk away and walk out,” Phillips said. “And the poor other actor thinks it’s them and it was never them - it was always him, and he just wasn’t feeling it.” And after taking a breather, he said, “we’ll take a walk and we’ll come back and we’ll do it.”
Fellow Joker player Robert De Niro - who plays a Johnny Carson-esque talk show host, not unlike the character played by Jerry Lewis in Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy - acknowledged that Phoenix could be “very intense.” However, the industry veteran stressed that, for a role like this, it was “as it should be.” In playing a part like Arthur Fleck, De Niro said, “There’s nothing to talk about, personally, on the side, ‘Let’s have coffee.’ Let’s just do the stuff.”
Baby Yoda fanatic Werner Herzog had an eventful 2006. He directed Rescue Dawn, his highest-grossing movie in America; was shot at during an interview with BBC; and saved Joaquin Phoenix from a car accident. The legendary filmmaker and two-time Simpsons guest star recounted the last two incidents in an interview with the New York Times.
When asked by interviewer-extraordinaire David Marchese whether he ever found out who fired at him with an air rifle, Herzog replied, “I was shot at various times. You mean here in Los Angeles?” Yes, in Los Angeles. “No, I wasn’t interested.” Fair enough. As for Phoenix, Herzog said that he recognized him it’s fun to imagine Herzog catching a matinee screening of Clay Pigeons, “although he was upside down in this car, squished between airbags that had deployed and wildly trying to light a cigarette.”
Only Herzog could make a car accident sound poetic:
“I knew he must not light his cigarette, because there was gasoline dripping and he would have perished in a fireball. So I tried to be clearly commandeering to him and tell him not to. But I was worried that if you gave him a command, he would strike his lighter even harder. So I managed to snatch the cigarette lighter from his hand. Then it became completely clear that it was Joaquin. But I didn’t want to speak to him after. I saw he wanted to come over and thank me. I just drove off.
Recalling the incident the week after it happened, Phoenix said that he heard a German voice tell him “just relax” and that “there’s something so calming and beautiful about Werner Herzog’s voice. I felt completely fine and safe.” I’m not sure what’s more on-brand: Phoenix smoking a cigarette after crashing his car, or Herzog refusing to stick around after potentially saving a man’s life. He would’ve stayed, had it been Baby Yoda.
Via New York Times
With large swathes of the population sitting at home, audiences have a chance to catch up on films that were released years ago and find new insights into their narrative. Recently, a fan who had been watching Suicide Squad with his family reached out to the film's director David Ayer to ask about the meaning behind the scene where the Joker is lying in the middle of a room lined with a circle of knives, guns, and baby clothes. Denying that the baby onesies were trophies after an infanticide spree on the part of the cackling psychopath, Ayer provided the following explanation for the scene instead.
'No it's more innocent. Harley wanted a normal family with Joker hence the baby in her vision. I figured she would have endlessly pestered Mr. J about having a kid. So he had Mr. Frost buy some onesies. The circle represents how he sees Harley.'
The scene under discussion comes up early in the story. Harley Quinn, played by Margot Robbie, is locked up in Arkham, and we see Joker, played by Jared Leto, in his mansion mourning her absence. He has also shown to have drawn a grin across his face using a sharpie, which according to David Ayer, is because...
'He was having a hard time smiling without Harley so gave himself some help with a sharpie.'
This introduction sets up the fact that this Joker is unlike any other live-action portrayal of the supervillain as a man who is missing his demon lover. The onesies we see lined up on the floor next to the Joker later make an appearance in the scene where the Enchantress offers Harley her heart's desire, and she imagines a life of domestic bliss with her beloved Mistah J, with their babies wearing the onesies.
How the circle of knives represents Harley in the mind of the Joker is up for debate. Perhaps he fears that his affection for Harley makes her dangerous to him, and thus views her as a circle of knives drawing closer, threatening to destroy him.
This sentiment of Joker being attracted towards Harley and simultaneously hating the fact that she has made him care for her is also played out in the scene where Harley willingly throws herself into a pit of acid on Joker's command. After trying to walk away from the whole thing, Joker almost unwillingly jumps in after her and rescues her, proving that she means more to him than he can bring himself to admit.
From his explanation, it is clear that Ayer had a solid backstory and reasoning behind the script for Suicide Squad, which unfortunately did not translate very well to the big screen. But now that James Gunn has taken over directorial duties on the sequel, there is a chance to see a Suicide Squad film that gets critical acclaim in addition to minting money at the box office. David Ayer on Twitter brings us this news.