Joaquin Phoenix And Todd Phillips Shoot Down A Crazy Joker Theory About Clocks


Joker is enjoying continued success at the box office, possibly due to the fact that fans of Todd Phillips’ movie rewards repeat viewings. There are ongoing debates about what the ending of the movie might mean. No clear-cut answer exists there. And DC Comics fans have spent a lot of time scouring the backgrounds of scenes looking for indications that Phillips meant to include a DC mention or a Batman reference.

We thought we saw a good one, and have seen people speculating about it online. So when we had the chance to sit down with both Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix to discuss Joker on the ReelBlend podcast, we asked them specifically if the 11:11 on the clocks meant anything. Phillips was coy as he stated:

It’s a coincidence. … No, I mean, I don’t know. I think it’s a coincidence. That’s two times. Is there another time? … No, no that’s just interesting.

We had two concrete references to 11:11 on clocks spotted in Joker. The first occurs in the early meeting with Arthur’s therapist. Later, an obvious one occurs when he punches the time clock off of the wall as he exits his former job. The fact that they both say 11:11 stands out, even though Phillips claims it is a coincidence.

Another obvious clock, however, was when Joker (Joaquin Phoenix) is in the green room at Murray’s late-night talk show. It’s 10:40 pm. Meaning, if you do the math between when the show starts at 11:00, and when Joker is on as a guest, it’s highly possible that Arthur Fleck might shoot Murray in the face at 11:11 pm.

Joaquin Phoenix isn’t really buying it. When we put the question to him, he hit us with a subtle Beatles reference, saying:

Paul is dead. Paul is Dead. [inaudible] The Beatles. [laughs] What I'm saying is, I do know that there are some of those things that we put in, whatever the fuck you call them… yeah. I mean, I think some of them you might read into. That's the ‘Paul is Dead’ joke that I’m making. But no, 11:11 didn't mean anything to me personally.

The “Paul is Dead” line refers to an age-old Beatles conspiracy theory that claimed that original Fab Four member Paul McCartney had DIED in 1966, and was subsequently replaced by a Paul by a lookalike. The theory picked up steam after fans somehow realized that if you played the Beatles track “Revolution 9” from the White Album backwards, a portion of the song either says “Paul is dead” or “Turn me on, dead man.” Either way, very strange.

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Phoenix clarified the reference in an interview after ours with Collider, where he added:

I go, ‘You see what you want to see, you hear what you want to hear.’ Everybody thought it said 'Paul is dead' backwards and shit.

So they claim that the clocks hold no significance, and that it’s all a coincidence. Do you believe them? Or do you think that there ARE no accidents on a film set, with everything captured by the camera being 100% intentional? Hit the comments section and let us know your thoughts! And while you are at it, listen to the entire interview with Joker director in the latest episode of ReelBlend, included above.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.