We finally know when the Joker went insane. A new interview with actor Shea Whigham, who’s appeared in everything from HBO’s Boardwalk Empire to Netflix’s Death Note, reveals an exact year for the fictional period setting of Todd Phillips’ Joker.

In an interview with Collider, Whigham says Joker, a new DC film starring Joaquim Phoenix as Batman’s famed nemesis the Joker in his definitive origin story, takes place in 1981, a particularly “tough” period for Gotham City.

While crediting his onscreen partner Bill Camp (The Night Of) as “one of our great actors,” Whigham says he and Camp play two Gotham City police officers who kick off the film investigating a bizarre incident.

“He and I play two cops from Gotham P.D. in 1981, when the city was tough,” Whigham says. “We’re investigating something that’s just happened, at the start of the piece. We’re trying to get to the bottom of it, and it leads to where it leads to.”

While Whigham is predictably mum over specific details regarding Joker, he describes the film as “an experience” and a set that feels like it “crackles.”

“You know, it’s rare that I’ve been on a set where it feels like it crackles. It’s pretty amazing,” he says. “We’re having an experience on Joker.”

Existing independently from the interconnected DC Universe, Joker explores the story of a failed comedian (Phoenix) who turns to a life of crime. The film is focused exclusively on the Joker, and while Batman is rumored to appear in some capacity — a version of the 1960s Batmobile has been spotted on set — the film isn’t being made in the mold of a traditional superhero movie.

Joker will be released in theaters on October 5, 2019.


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Photos via Warner Bros. Pictures