It sounds like Todd Phillips' Joker movie, starring Joaquin Phoenix, was put together on the fly. That's not necessarily a bad thing, it just makes us more curious than ever about the result, due in theaters this October. It sounds like Zazie Beetz is also curious to see how the film turns out. She plays cynical single mom Sophie Dumond in Joker, but when asked for details on the movie she seemed genuinely stumped on what to say:
I can't say anything. It's gritty and dark. I mean, I haven't seen a cut or anything. Gotham. [laughs] The script was great, we rewrote the whole thing while we were shooting it. Literally, we would go into [director/co-writer Todd Phillips’] trailer and write the scene for the night and then do it. ... During hair and makeup we'd memorize those lines and then do them, and then we'd reshoot that three weeks later. We had to do everything then because Joaquin [Phoenix] had lost so much weight. We couldn't do reshoots later on, so we were figuring it out.
Wow, there's a lot to think about there. Zazie Beetz shared her intel during an MTV News interview that also included Armie Hammer. When she mentioned going into the trailer to rewrite scenes, Hammer quipped that the screenwriter of the film was going to be so pissed to hear that. Beetz added that he was in there with them, helping shape the script, presumably referring to co-writer Scott Silver, who is credited on the script with Todd Phillips.
At least it sounds like Joker won't be going back for reshoots, at least not for Joaquin Phoenix's Arthur Fleck/Joker, unless they can find a way around the weight loss issue. Phoenix is certainly known for getting deep into character, and it sounds like a real transformation is coming.
Fans already noticed Joaquin Phoenix's weight loss this past fall when he was spotted looking much thinner on the streets of New York City. Fans don't always connect weight loss with filmmaking complications, but it's true that you have to get very creative if you feel like rewriting a scene that took place when your main character was, say, 20 pounds lighter or heavier.
Zazie Beetz did credit Todd Phillips with being "quick at getting stuff done" so they had extra time to do everything after rewriting scenes. So it wasn't a rushed set in that way, but it has to be ... what? ... confusing, frustrating, or just exciting and electric to be live in the moment figuring out what will happen next?
I'd want a set script, but I'm also not an actor or filmmaker. However, I am a film watcher, and if this movie ends up feeling like it was made on the fly, then it's a problem.
This Warner Bros./DC film is separate from the DCEU of Justice League and Shazam! According to the official synopsis, Joker follows the iconic arch-nemesis through an original, standalone story not seen before on the big screen. The tale of Arthur Fleck shows a man disregarded by society. It's meant to not only be a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale.
Joker is also said to star Robert De Niro as a talk show host. Martin Scorsese was attached to the movie at one point as a producer. Together with the Joker's story, that got some fans thinking of the great film The King of Comedy as a potential touchstone for this movie. But if they rewrote the script as they went along, it's hard to know how much inspiration they drew from anything. Plans may have changed during the September to December filming schedule.
Joker also stars Bill Camp, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Glenn Fleshler, Douglas Hodge, Marc Maron, and Shea Whigham. It's scheduled to open in theaters on October 4. Here's what else you can look forward to watching on the big screen in 2019.