Three-time Academy Award-nominated actor Joaquin Phoenix may become the new Clown Prince of Crime.
On Thursday, Variety reported that a stand-alone Joker film, produced by Warner Bros. and DC Comics, is circling Joaquin Phoenix for the lead role. Phoenix is reportedly interested in the role, with sources telling Variety he has already agreed, but there is no formal announcement yet.
Known for his roles in the movies Gladiator, Her, and Inherent Vice, Phoenix is a dependably great actor who, like previous Joker actors, inherit the role in unsettling ways. (Except Jared Leto.)
The untitled Joker film, set to be directed by Todd Phillips of The Hangover films, is said to be part of a new brand of DC films disconnected from the DC cinematic franchise, commonly known as the DC Extended Universe. Variety reports that Phoenix will not interfere with Leto, who is still tapped to reprise his Joker in Suicide Squad 2. The film is also expected to be a period piece origin story for the infamous Batman nemesis, taking place in the 1980s.
Phoenix’s Joker isn’t the first time the actor has been around comic book properties. In 1989, Phoenix had a guest role in the television series Superboy, as Billy Hercules. Decades later, Phoenix was a major frontrunner to portray Superman villain Lex Luthor, in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The role ultimately went to Jesse Eisenberg.
A decade ago, the late Heath Ledger starred as the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, delivering a legendary performance characterized by daring choices that include jitters, slurping, and even a sharp sense of humor. The performance posthumously earned Ledger the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor that year.
The role was kept off the big screen for years, until actor/singer Jared Leto took the role in David Ayer’s Suicide Squad. Even without comparisons to Ledger, Leto’s performance was viewed unfavorably by most critics and fans. Though if you ask any Batman fan, chances are they’ll say that Mark Hamill is still one of the best Jokers of all time.
There is not yet a release date for the untitled Joker movie.