Will ‘Joker’ Viewers Root for or Against the Villain? Director, Todd Phillips Answers

Joker will tell the origin story of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) becoming the iconic Batman villain, the Joker. He starts off wanting to make people laugh before descending into the world of crime.

Some have wondered if the movie will make viewers root for or against the character. Todd Phillips talked about the movie at the Joker premiere at Toronto Film Festival on Sept. 9. This is what he had to say about how people will feel about the character’s journey and more.

Joaquin Phoenix lost a lot of weight to play the Joker

The actor not only had to work on capturing the mental state of Arthur Fleck. He had to transform physically to play the role by losing 52 pounds.

“The first thing was the weight loss, that’s really what I started with,” Phoenix told Entertainment Tonight Canada. “As it turns out, that impacts your psychology, and you really start to go mad when you lose that much weight in that amount of time.”

He revealed another thing that helped him prepare. “There’s also a book about political assassins that I thought was interesting, and breaks down the different types of personalities that do those sorts of things [I do in the film].”

He didn’t look to past versions of the character

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There are many versions of the Joker by now. Phoenix didn’t watch Heath Ledger or Jack Nicholson’s performances to prepare. He wanted to do something different.

“The attraction to make this film and this character was that we were going to approach it in our own way, so, for me, I didn’t refer to any past iterations of the character,” the movie star said at a press conference. “It just felt like something that was our creation in some ways.”

Todd Phillips said people will root for him until they can’t

Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix attend the "Joker" premiere during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival
Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix attend the “Joker” premiere during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival Amy Sussman/Getty Images

The director, Todd Phillips opened up about the challenge of making a movie focusing on the Batman villain. He teased that the audience will be taken on an emotional journey.

“Well it’s challenging but we took an approach where he wasn’t a villain at least in the beginning,” said Phillips on the red carpet “and the idea was what happens when you make an origin story about a villain where the villain’s the hero and you feel for him, and you root for him until can’t root for him any longer?

Zazie Beetz plays Sophie Dumond in the movie. She previously talked about the movie’s take on the villainous character.

“I think that it’s really an empathy toward isolation and kind of what is our duty as a society I suppose to address people who slip through the cracks in a way,” she told Variety. “Of course, there’s a lot of culture of that right now. But I don’t know if it’s as much — is it empathy for that or is it an observation on personalities who struggle.”

Fans will have to wait and see how they feel about the movie’s portrayal. Joker will be released in theaters on Oct. 4.