Since before its release, Todd Phillips' Joker has been the subject of much discussion. The dark psychological drama made a big splash at film festivals, before breaking records with its wide theatrical release. Since then Joker has become a favorite for awards season, earning a whopping 11 nominations for the 2020 Academy Awards. Joaquin Phoenix is a favorite to win the Best Actor statue, especially after his win at the Golden Globes. Phoenix has been open about his process, and he recently explained why he doesn't like to rehearse scenes, especially for movies like Joker.
Joaquin Phoenix is an acclaimed actor, who has been celebrated for his roles in movies like Gladiator, Signs, Walk the Line, and Her. He's clearly got a certain method for bringing out these powerful performances, and that includes not rehearsing much-- especially for heavy scenes like Joker's. Phoenix recently put it,
It feels impossible to me. I dunno, it just feels so fake. The great thing about shooting a movie is shooting multiple takes, you use editing and so you grab those best moments. So I’d rather discover those best moments while we’re working than in the rehearsal process then feel like, ‘Oh that was really good, how do we recreate that?’
Touche. There's a reason Joaquin Phoenix is a four-time Oscar nominee. He strives to be as authentic as possible, and therefore avoids rehearsing if possible. We'll just have to see if his efforts in Joker get him his first win.
Joaquin Phoenix's comments come from his recent interview with Anderson Cooper for 60 Minutes. Phoenix did a deep dive into his process with the journalist, especially regarding his acclaimed performance as Arthur Fleck in Joker. Phoenix had his work cut out for him, and very big clown shoes to fill by playing the Clown Prince of Crime. But he and director Todd Phillips ultimately succeeded by crafting a story unlike anything we've seen. And from the sound of it, there wasn't much rehearsing for the star.
It makes sense that Joaquin Phoenix wouldn't want to spend time rehearsing Joker, considering the dark places the movie already required him to go. The actor expertly portrayed Arthur Fleck's descent into madness, and the character's complicated mental health state. Arthur's laughing was no doubt an exhausting part of his characterization, and Phoenix was also dieting severely to maintain the character's emaciated appearance.
Considering how much Joker required of Joaquin Phoenix, he wanted his honest reactions to shine through on screen. That's exactly what occurred, and all of the stories fro he and Todd Phillips make it seem like a very live set. After all, he improvised the iconic bathroom dance scene. What's more, his protagonist was emotionally vulnerable and void of affection, and his delusions only get worse once his aid and therapist are revoked.