Joker's Joaquin Phoenix stormed out of an interview. Here's why
Regardless of the film bagging the top prize at the Venice Film Festival, or receiving an eight-minute standing ovation, Joker is still shaping up to be a rather controversial film. When someone at The Telegraph asked a question a lot of people are wondering, Phoenix wasn’t having any of it.
Joker follows Arthur Fleck – failed comedian who gradually falls into madness and destruction as he sees no other path in life. He becomes the Crime Prince of Crime and a leader to follow in 1970s Gotham. There’s people out there that fear Todd Phillips’ Joker sympathises with a homicidal character at a time in the real world where violence and gun crime is rife.
With this in mind, The Telegraph asked Phoenix if the film could “perversely end up inspiring exactly the kind of people it's about, with potentially tragic results”. This question had Phoenix snap, thankfully not in such a way as to become the Joker, but he still stormed out of the interview.
The actor did not return to the interview till the issue had been dealt with by a Warner Bros. press representative.
Phillips, who directs the film, has attempted to clear the confusion on the purpose and meaning of the film, saying it is not a political critique.
“I think movies are oftentimes mirrors of society, but they’re never molders,” Phillips said. “So even though the movie takes place in late ‘70s, early ‘80s, we wrote it in 2017. So inevitably, certain themes find their way into the movie that may exist now. And not everybody sees that, some people just see it as a new take on a Joker origin story. So you hate to define it for people, what it is, and it’s certainly not a political film. I mean, for some people. It just really depends, I think, on the lens at which you view it through.”
Ultimately, Joker is largely about a “lack of empathy,” not politics. “It’s about the lack of empathy that we were seeing in the world at the time we wrote it, that probably still exists, that’s a big theme of the movie, for sure,” Phillips said.
In America this year alone there have been almost 300 mass shooting events, with more than 300 dead and 1,200 injured. Joker comes at a time of high-tension in the States, its dominant audience for theatrical release.
Joker hits screens on October 4.