If you’ve seen Todd Phillips’ Joker, you know that it’s not exactly the kind of movie that holds a lot back. As promised, Joker is very much an R-rated movie, and it utilizes that rating to full effect with a story that is incredibly dark and upsetting, with moments of extreme violence. But even R ratings have their limits. Joker actually cut one bathtub scene because it was too ‘insane’ for an R-rated movie, as director Todd Phillips explained:
How intriguing. Speaking at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Todd Phillips recalled how, during filming, at the end of the day, he and star Joaquin Phoenix would experiment during what they dubbed ‘A Study of Insomnia.’ During the last hour of the day, Todd Phillips worked with Joaquin Phoenix, who would be free to improvise, experiment and try different things with his character. Out of this process came a scene too wild for even a restricted rating.
Apparently Joaquin Phoenix performed an impromptu scene where his Arthur Fleck was in a bathtub, doing… something, and whatever it was, it was deemed too insane to include in an R-rated film. Naturally when you start talking about him being in the bathtub, you might think about a certain type or amount of nudity. That’s why it wouldn’t work in an R-rated film and would have gotten Joker bumped up to an untenable NC-17.
That’s not the case though, because according to Todd Phillips, the cut bathtub scene was not pornographic in nature. I don’t get the impression that this would have been the same scene as the one where Arthur was bathing his mother Penny, so it may have just been him alone in the bathtub. It doesn’t seem like it would be extreme violence either because the film has plenty of that and maintains its R rating.
Whatever Arthur Fleck did in the scene was maybe just too weird and wild to fit under an R rating. But what was it? We saw Arthur being a completely insane and twisted individual throughout the film, so this must have really been something. My guess:
Making this cut insane bathtub scene even more interesting is that according to Todd Philips, it was amazing. It’s a major tease from the director that seems destined to go down as part of the lore of this film. Sadly, we’ll probably never get to see it because Todd Phillips is very much against extended cuts and deleted scenes. So the chances of an unrated cut with the bathtub scene put back in seem slim.
Those impromptu sessions at the end of the day weren’t all for naught though. The scene where Arthur climbs inside the refrigerator also came out of this process. And the R rating worked out pretty well since Joker is now the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all-time, as well as the most profitable comic book movie ever, making it difficult to say anything should have been changed, at least from a commercial viability standpoint.
Joker is now playing. Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to see what else is headed to theaters this year and put your tasteful ideas of what you think Joaquin Phoenix did in the cut bathtub scene in the comments below.
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Nick grew up in Maryland has degrees in Film Studies and Communications. His life goal is to walk the earth, meet people and get into adventures. He’s also still looking for The Adventures of Pete and Pete season 3 on DVD if anyone has a lead.