The blockbuster hit film, 'Joker', almost never happened. The premise of the movie follows the convoluted and distraught life of Arthur Fleck and his subsequent development into the Joker. While maintaining some aspects of a comic book character, the film wasn't so much about that.
Nonetheless, Joaquin Phoenix never truly accepted the role from the director, Todd Phillips. How the situation unfolded is something of Hollywood lore, as the film will undoubtedly be nominated for an Oscar and other prestigious awards.
Not the Typical Joaquin Phoenix Role
Aside from a couple of blockbuster hits such as Gladiator and Signs, Joaquin Phoenix has never been the type of actor to choose big-time films. This was especially the case for 'Joker' which was perceived to follow in the footsteps of the comic book films that had come before it.
And it wasn't that Phoenix simply didn't want to take the role because it was a comic book film, but that he didn't feel as though he could provide the complex layering for the character.
But director Todd Phillips was not ready to give up on Phoenix, knowing that he would be the perfect actor for this role.
A Comic Book Film?
In speaking to Indiewire, the director, Phillips, explained how the whole process unfolded and that Phoenix ultimately never actually accepted the role in the film.
"If you took two pages of our script and you [hold it up] to our scene, you realize how additive an actor can be. It was a pursuit to get him because initially, it feels like, 'ugh, comic book movie'," Phillips shared.
"Just the idea of it is something he wasn’t so keen on pursuing, and even when I would explain to him it’s not that, it kind of says that, but really we’re doing this other thing, there was a little resistance."
Not Taking No For an Answer
Suffice it to say, Phillips was adamant about landing Phoenix for the role and didn't give up, going even as far as trying to hang out with him in an attempt to convince the actor that this was a character that he could emulate.
"But the more I got to know him, the more I hung out with him, and we spent a lot of time talking about what the movie will look and feel like, and then one day he magically showed up," Phillips revealed.
Much to the chagrin of Phillips, Phoenix randomly showed up on the set without any notice or previous indications that he was going to move forward with the film.
"He never said yes. He just one day showed up to a wardrobe fitting… It was an incredible partnership."
An Oscar Worthy Performance
While this type of situation is far from the norm when it comes to actors and actresses accepting coveting roles in films, it also says something about the kind of actor that Phoenix is. Calculated and aware of what he can bring to a character.
Perhaps, he had his doubts that he wouldn't be able to develop the complexity that the character needed in this huge hit. What we do know is that Phoenix absolutely delivered and is now in the running for awards from the Academy, as well as, countless other prestigious awards.