If you’ve seen the trailers for Joker, you probably noticed that Joaquin Phoenix looks a lot thinner compared to his usual physique. That’s because the actor lost an astounding 52 pounds to play the Clown Prince of Crime, but Phoenix almost went in a different direction when it came to weight. It turns out that he originally wanted his version of The Joker to be overweight, both for clinical reasons and because he wasn’t keen on losing weight, something he’s had to do for other roles. Phoenix recalled:
Joaquin Phoenix recently sat down with the hosts of the ReelBlend podcast to talk about Joker, and you can listen to the full interview when it drops on October 4. That said, one of the highlights of the conversation was Phoenix’s talk about how he wanted his character, Arthur Fleck, to look. It was always his plan for Arthur to stand out physically, but he initially wanted his Joker to be on the heavier side. Director and co-writer Todd Phillips steered him in the other direction, and Phoenix acknowledged that was the better call.
During the interview, Joaquin Phoenix also mentioned about how the weight loss made him feel closer to the character of Arthur Fleck, to the point that it affected his mental state and he developed a hyper awareness of his body. In Phoenix’s words:
Joaquin Phoenix certainly isn’t the only actor to go through major weight fluctuations for a role, and I wouldn’t be surprised if, like Christian Bale, he eventually gets to a point where he’ll need to stop doing that. But for the purposes of delivering a compelling Joker performance, it sounds like Joaquin Phoenix is pleased with how the results turned out. Still, I’d be curious to see how Phoenix’s Joker would have turned out had he gone with his initial overweight approach.
Set in 1981 and entirely separated from the modern DC movies, Joker tells the story of how Arthur Fleck goes from a failed stand-up comedian disregarded by society to a criminal mastermind who unleashes a wave of chaos across Gotham City. With a cast that also includes Zazie Beetz, Robert De Niro, Frances Conroy and many more, Joker has already earned a lot of positive reception from early screenings, while simultaneously generating controversy about its depiction of the title character.
Joker arrives in theaters on October 4. In the meantime, look through our 2019 release schedule to find out when the rest of this year’s movies are coming out, and don’t forget to subscribe to the ReelBlend podcast for instant updates, including the forthcoming Joaquin Phoenix interview.