Todd Phillips' Joker with Joaquin Phoenix is now filming, and it seems like every other day we are getting new images (official or leaked) that tease what we can expect from this origin story. One thing that has really come across so far is how creepy this movie seems. A lot of folks find clowns creepy to begin with, that's part of what makes the Joker resonate so deeply. But this movie seems to be really leaning into that, with Joaquin Phoenix's Arthur Fleck in more traditional clown makeup (at least at first) than we saw with Heath Ledger or Jared Leto's interpretations of the character. Now director Todd Phillips has released another clown photo from the set that goes full circus clown and keeps that creepy vibe. Take a look:
It's not entirely clear if the clown in this image is Joaquin Phoenix or not, but from big red nose to the poufy hair to the Ronald McDonald shoes, this is definitely the kind of full-on creepy clown that makes children cry. It even looks like he has one of those flowers that squirt water pinned to his jacket. The clown has a sad, poor, traveling clown look, and even though a smile is painted on he doesn't appear to be happy. And his stare is somewhat unsettling, almost menacing. Clearly this movie is emphasizing the creepy clown vibe, and trying to tap into the fear of clowns that makes IT's Pennywise so potent.
It's hard to know for sure if this is Joaquin Phoenix, but if it is, it shows a Joker that is far different than we're accustomed to. My guess would be that Arthur Fleck will go through multiple transformations throughout this movie, on his way to becoming the Joker we know. It could be that this is a starting point for the character, or part of what eventually breaks him and leads him down a dark path. Maybe having failed in standup comedy, he hits a low point and starts entertaining as a clown at children's birthday parties to make ends meet. I could also see this costume as a disguise Arthur Fleck uses to appear the innocent, albeit creepy, clown, before revealing himself as the Joker.
Another possibility is that the clown photo from Todd Phillips' Instagram isn't Joaquin Phoenix. One of the leaked set videos from Joker showed Joaquin Phoenix's character, in Joker makeup, exiting a subway train and terrorizing those on the platform. He's joined by a bunch of other people also wearing clown makeup. These are presumably his henchmen, so it could be that this image is of one of them.
Regardless of whether this is Joaquin Phoenix or not, it is clear that this movie is going all in on creepy clowns, so those with coulrophobia should steel their nerves before seeing this one.