Three-time Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix could soon be playing The Joker.
That’s right, the actor has reportedly entered talks with Warner Bros. and director Todd Phillips (The Hangover, Due Date, War Dogs) to take on the popular DC villain played by the likes of Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson.
Variety broke the news, reporting that although the studio hasn’t made any official comment, Phillips claims that Phoenix has agreed to star. Apparently Phillips met Phoenix before new year to discuss the project and he was waiting for the green light from WB.
Phillips will be directing and co-writing the still-untitled standalone Joker film, which will reportedly be set in the ’80s and is being described as a gritty and grounded hard-boiled crime pic exploring Joker’s origins. Also on writing duties is Scott Silver, whose credits include 8 Mile and The Fighter.
Word is that Jared Leto needn’t be worried; this film will come to life under a new DC Comics banner that will house canon-expanding standalone films away from the current DC cinematic universe (Wonder Woman, Justice League, Suicide Squad, etc). Leto is expected to play The Joker in Suicide Squad 2, which has Gavin O’Connor (Warrior, The Accountant) attached to direct.
Studios have been keen eying Phoenix for a comic book blockbuster for a while now. Marvel was in talks with the actor for Doctor Strange and Warner Bros. was keen to have him play Lex Luthor; he passed on both.
“I’ve flirted with several of those [blockbuster films], having meetings and getting close, but ultimately it never felt like they’d really be fulfilling,” Phoenix told Time Out in 2015.
“There were too many requirements that went against my instincts for character. I’ve been spoiled. I’ve never had to make those compromises. I’ve not met a director yet with one of those films where we go through the script, they say: “You know what, fuck this set-piece, let’s focus on the character!” I understand, but it’s best I don’t do it.”
He may very well have found the right project this time around. Stay tuned.