Robert De Niro was sent a pipe bomb while filming 'Joker'

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 27:  Robert De Niro attends Tribeca Talks - Directors Series with David O. Russell and Jennifer Lawrence during the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival at BMCC Tribeca PAC on April 27, 2019 in New York City.  (Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage)
Robert de Niro was unfazed when he was sent a pipe bomb on the set of 'Joker', says director Todd Phillips (John Lamparski/WireImage)

You might expect that the set of Joker - a film about DC Comics’ Clown Prince of Crime - would have its fair share of hi-jinks. But director Todd Phillips couldn’t believe it when legendary actor Robert De Niro was sent a pipe bomb on the first day of filming.

In an exclusive interview with Empire magazine, the filmmaker recalled how the incident was discovered to be part of the ‘MAGA bomb’ wave, that saw individuals who had publicly spoken out against President Donald Trump being threatened with explosive packages.

Read more: First teaser trailer for Joker

“We had FBI guys showing up to search the set,” Phillips remembered. “And I thought, ‘Oh god, what’s he gonna be like?’ And he comes in like it’s nothing, just ready to rock, knew his s**t. He’s amazing.”

Robert De Niro in <i>Joker</i> (Warner Bros.)
Robert De Niro in Joker (Warner Bros.)

Featuring Joaquin Phoenix as the titular supervillain, Joker is set to be an origin story - although it won’t be one that fans of the character will recognise.

“We didn’t follow anything from the comic-books, which people are gonna be mad about,” Phillips - who co-wrote the screenplay with Scott Silver told the same publication. “We just wrote our own version of where a guy like Joker might come from.

“That’s what was interesting to me. We’re not even doing Joker, but the story of becoming Joker. It’s about this man.”

Read more: Jared Leto really wants to play The Joker again

In the Warner Bros. outing, the Joker is Arthur Fleck, a stand-up comedian whose mental health deteriorates due to a string of increasingly bad gigs and his complicated relationship with his mother (played by American Horror Story’s Frances Conroy).

In the psychological thriller, De Niro plays talk show host Murray Franklin, whom Fleck kidnaps during his downward spiral.

Also starring Brian Tyree Henry Marc Maron and Zazie Beetz, Joker will be released in UK and US cinemas on 4 October.