Joaquin Phoenix: “In the skin of the Joker, I lived the best moment of my life!”

It is not without apprehension that we enter the room of a Parisian mansion where Joaquin Phoenix, 44, an actor with an impressive cinematography (“The Yards”, “Walk the Line”, “The Sisters Brothers”) awaits us. To evoke the “Joker”. He was notoriously difficult, often interrupting interviews abruptly. But he reassures us from the start: “I like to have one-on-one conversations with print journalists, what I don’t like are five-minute television interviews, repeating the same things over and over… “A meeting with one who delivers here the performance of his life.

Is it true that before filming I had long conversations with Todd Phillips for three months

Joaquin Phoenix. I don’t know if it lasted three months, but it is true that I have a lot of questions. Whenever I touch on a character, I like to try to get to know her as much as possible beforehand. Todd showed me a documentary that brought up the very serious side effects of some antidepressant medications, which can induce criminal behavior. I wanted to learn more about the relationship between these drugs and “negative thoughts” (Editor’s note: The phrase appears several times in the movie) that it can cause. We talked about this condition a lot, and it became an essential component of character…

What came out of these conversations?

It was discovered that among the side effects, these drugs can cause significant weight loss. On a rapidement décidé que le Joker devrait paraître très maigre, et j’ai donc perdu 15 kg… Tout le personnage s’est construit ainsi: j’avais le scénario en main, je demandais à Todd: « doit-il être gros very thin ? “Why does this thinking do such and such?” »

Is “Joker” the story of a lonely individual or an example of malaise so present in our modern societies?

One way or another, I think everyone is economically and socially isolated. We see in the movie that whatever the situation, whether it’s the Joker or a young Bruce Wayne – the future Batman – or an unknown woman on a bus, everyone has to deal with these “negative thoughts”, all the world feels overwhelmed, confused, everyone carries a lot of sadness And weakness…

How did you find the terrifying laugh of the Joker?

Always working on certain types of mental illness, some of which cause fits of uncontrolled laughter. But with Todd, we’ve made it a Joker’s signature: his tactic is to elicit these laughs to put his interlocutors in an uncomfortable position.

Are you the type of actor who “lives” for months with your character?

In fact, no: I am the personal “I”! During filming, the idea of ​​separating the character’s identity from mine is unimaginable. On the set, everything she did was related to the “Joker”, regardless of the time. I didn’t have a social life, I didn’t dine with anyone, I came home every evening with the Joker skin I kept until morning, etc. My only social relationship was with Todd Phillips.

And what does it feel like to live in such a character?

honestly? I had the best time of my life! I’m the type to get bored quickly, and there, I’ve never been bored! Every day I woke up with the idea of ​​finding something new, I tried to surprise myself, there was a lot to think about being a Joker. Then on the set, when everything helps, the cameras, the director, the music, what a kick! And then working with Todd Phillips, this very sensitive, very subtle, director who doesn’t have anything traditional about him and who shows that sense of humour, it was fantastic.

I was a good friend of Heath Ledger, who died in 2008, who played the amazing Joker in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight.” Did you discuss the role with him at the time?

no. But I have a great anecdote: While he was working on “The Dark Knight”, I was shooting a movie, and at times we both complained about our difficulties. And one evening he said to me: Do you know what? We must trade, my character and I will play yours! Heath did an exceptional job with The Joker, and I tried to forget that during all my work on set and filming. I only watched the movie again recently, and realized I had forgotten all about it, so I’m sure it didn’t affect my interpretation.

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