It was just a couple days ago that we learned from reports that Alec Baldwin was signing up to play Thomas Wayne in Todd Phillips' upcoming Joker movie... but now that news has gone ahead and reversed itself. While the stories earlier this week seemed to confirm Baldwin's involvement, the actor has now revealed that he won't be able to be a part of the film due to conflicts with other upcoming projects.
This update comes from an interview with Alec Baldwin by USA Today. While not exactly rich with details, the story notes that scheduling was the primary issue - though he threw in a bit of snark saying,
I'm sure there are 25 guys who can play that part.
According to a trade report that spread like wildfire late on Tuesday, Thomas Wayne will be one of the key figures of Batman lore in the Joker film, though he won't exactly be the smart, commanding businessman and surgeon that we are used to seeing. Instead, the news suggested that the version of the character would be more reminiscent of 1980s-era Donald Trump. Alec Baldwin seemed like a natural fit given the fact that he has recently been portraying Trump on Saturday Night Live, but now it will apparently be up to the studio to find one of the other "25 guys" who can get the job done.
Had the actor signed on, he would have joined what is shaping up to be a brilliant ensemble cast, headlined by Joaquin Phoenix in the titular role. Also on-board are Robert De Niro (as a popular talk show host), Frances Conroy (as the Joker's mother), Marc Maron (as a booking agent for aforementioned talk show), and Zazie Beetz (as a single mother who strikes up a relationship with Joker before his transformation). The film will be set in the 1980s, and has been said to have a tone that blends Martin Scorsese classics Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy.
Joker is actually an interesting experiment for the folks at Warner Bros., as it is being established as a DC Comics adaptation set outside the continuity of the DC Extended Universe (Jared Leto will continue to play the Clown Prince of Crime in that particular franchise). This will be a test to see if audiences can wrap their minds around the idea - and if they do, it could establish a unique strategy for the brand that will let them do their own version of what Marvel Studios is doing, plus a bit extra. It will only work, however, if the film is good and/or successful.
There is a lot about Joker that is being kept under wraps, though we do know that production is scheduled to start in New York this fall, and that Warner Bros. will be releasing the film in theaters on October 4th next year. We'll be very curious to find out who the production winds up bringing in to play Thomas Wayne, so stay tuned for updates on that front.