Todd Phillips made ‘Joker’ inspired by his favourite director Martin Scorsese’s films starring Robert De Niro. But as it turns out, Joaquin Phoenix avoided Robert on the sets while shooting for ‘Joker’.
Todd Phillips’ ‘Joker’ was a meditative cinematic experience that touched upon the real-world issues in the garb of a super-villain origin movie. Other than getting Joaquin Phoenix an Oscar for his leading titular performance, the film received universal critical and commercial acclaim. Everyone knows how ‘Joker’ took some very obvious inspirations from Martin Scorsese epics such as ‘The King of Comedy’ and ‘Taxi Driver’, with the latter being the main inspiration for Joker’s character. It was also quite poetic when Robert De Niro, who was the main actor in both the films, was hired to play a key role in the film ‘Joker’.
- Joaquin Phoenix avoided Robert De Niro
- Joaquin Phoenix on Joker sets
Robert is an iconic actor and Scorsese had a major role to play in his career. From ‘The King of Comedy’, to ‘Raging Bull’, to ‘Goodfellas’, to ‘Taxi Driver’, Robert has been consistent in the greatest works of the genius director. So when Joaquin Phoenix began preparing for the role of Joker, he obviously had to refer to what Robert had done with his roles in the Scorsese epics. The trope of ‘a loner that turns violent’ has been heavily used in Hollywood over the years. So, when Joaquin had to prepare for the role, he had to come across as different from everybody else and that was among the biggest challenges.
JOAQUIN PHOENIX AVOIDED ROBERT DE NIRO
But the biggest challenge was to act in front of Robert De Niro, the unabashed champion of the said ‘loner trope’. Joaquin had said in the past that he greatly admires Robert. When it came to both sharing the sets and the screen, it was the big cinematic event of the year. However, it came as a mild shock to the fans when they realized that they both barely talked to each other on the set. Phoenix said in an interview with Variety, that he didn’t like to talk to Robert on the sets. On the first day that they were together on the sets, they shared a ‘good morning’ and that was it. They didn’t talk a lot after that during the entirety of the filming.
JOAQUIN PHOENIX ON ‘JOKER’ SETS
It doesn’t mean that the actors have bad blood between them. It’s in fact related to the craft that Joaquin believes in. Joaquin further said that their characters didn’t need to talk to each other. Both the actors had separate roles to play and that was about it between the two. It is also quite evident that both the stalwarts have different styles of acting. While De Niro follows a more old-school way of having a read-through of the script before the cameras roll, Phoenix relies on his own ‘let it happen’ style. It basically means that while De Niro is more rational, Phoenix is more intuitive.
However, Rob insisted to do a read-through and the director wanted to respect his words. Phoenix was in a way ‘forced’ to sit through the read-through. He mumbled his lines and went into a corner to smoke a cigarette. He apparently didn’t like the way he felt after going through with that ‘standard’ process. This minor difficulty between Phoenix and De Niro ended when the latter kissed him on his cheeks and said ‘it was going to be alright’. It was clear that they both respect each other a lot to have bad blood between them. Hence, Phoenix avoiding De Niro on the set was just a ‘superstition thing’ it seems, for which the actor is known.
Despite the difference in processes, both Robert De Niro and Joaquin Phoenix are legendary actors. The latter’s performance in ‘Joker’ will be remembered for years, and decades to come!
Tell us in the comments which is your favourite Scorsese-De Niro film and why? Also, tell us your take on Phoenix returning for a ‘Joker’ sequel.