Joaquin Phoenix on the making of 'Joker'

The actor talks to Peter Travers about starring in the new DC Universe film.
25:30 | 10/04/19

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Transcript for Joaquin Phoenix on the making of 'Joker'
And there's an extraordinary movie for you did he called Joker. Opt for so many reasons. And one of the main reasons as my guest today Joaquin Phoenix working welcome back thanks like the Joker seems to be gone from youth. You back he gained weight back you have very perfectly that it really what is it what's that would the food of choice that you do plan. Yeah it's what ever is next view. Well not now. Or first thirty union yeah everything. Everything comes. Right through look at Joker is. Now belonging to the world then got your hands. That you Todd Phillips nobody can do anything this is the movie that there what does that feel like you say goodbye. To a character like that. All. Yeah and I are good byes character and long time a month ago. But we're all forcing you to talk about me yeah another that the right. It is always a strange process we've really it's kind of anticlimactic he did have all of this. Anticipation kind of building up you go around you opens press. And then images over with public making the movie you know what the the last day of shooting. We were. Shooting we've we've we've had a scene we shot seven wildly different takes as the very last thing that we shot. Who are still thinking of of idea is how will look we do differently. And then director at that you're on plan you're going American Roman. You're feeding your dogs. You won't forget it it just happens that quickly get I think you've ticketed picture you discussing it with the dog you know who fit. Here's what I was trying to grapple. The idea that amounted that if they get it right away. Large what was it that. Persuaded you. To play if care who was it what was it wasn't one thing. Never really is but in. A big part of for me a wide use movies as the filmmaker. Mystery simple and I just thought that Todd had. Really unique understanding of this world the character he agreed sensibilities and I. I knew that he could but he liked to work in the loose way at times. But there's also this really solid script like he did talk about. Working loosely or advising at times been futile assault reports really dangerous and it thought the script that hopscotch over wrote words. Was yours are. So I think doubt woods got was the beginning in the and Unionists. Reversing yesterday's started digging into research and observe fascinating. World and character. So you prepare for you have. Make I'm looking at picture over here you do the clown makeup you can do this you lose weight. What does all of that which is cosmetic or you looking at this what does that do for you in terms of creating the cap. You don't. You know you don't know you disturb going down in this this road a master applying the make up. Com all my own in the film agreed he'd make a partisan he's Lieberman did that make up. In preparation mr. Dalai. And a commute we discovered. I took pictures of different stages of the new picture there's one where it's just for the white change. And there's really very hard thing about look seasons. Polls worst period and the fool joke Jamaica. And I said that the heartland we we decided can view is that look for a scene in the movie. But the wait was. One of the first exist her research was was medications medications and it was wrong and this side effects those medications. And I have every on his message boards that. Many people the decide effective. Rapid fluctuations in weight either. Gaining weight and losing weight. We humans who real Buchberger underrated they were experiencing something that made them feel. Looked at differently because of their their condition mental condition. That felt made them feel isolated from the world. And then on top of it pictures medication. And help themselves and then they have these kind of rapid changes the way there's something very tragic about that to me. So if a TARP and we should kind of go with this revolution. You know have them really be effective is wary. I I was on lazy. So I suggested we we go there have you route is. Was yeah. And nobody went to that. Young mother we all knew of no way we are leveraging IC provides a 308. Joker yet that would be something through you have to. So calm and that it be good term. The wave that I felt that my body felt once that loss that way I was. I was aware of my body in ways that I had been. And in that allowed me to move in ways that I hadn't anticipated. So you never really goes and that ultimately kind of influenced a lot of the movement of the character. I wouldn't have I would have known that was an idea that but I in advance it was only in going through the experience. That I. Learn something about myself and it's affected the character. When you learn something about it but physically changes you definitely half. Its youth. Each. Shore there's there's also about this idea that. You know there's a character that never feels satisfied he always in this with perpetual state of yearning. Of need. And not was built in you know I was in a state of hunger. This is rooted in have to do lot of work. Yeah but. How do you see Arthur. When you you read him and then you create him the script is in a sense of blueprint. But there's a lot of this movie and one of the great things that tied I think is done with it is indeed allows the space between Boortz. Combat debris and so that we just watch what he's doing Arthur is a clown for higher he's in you've been bullied kid. You know we could say without giving too much way would. All we meant to. Sympathize with them. No argument to feel whatever your field and move. I had such mixed feelings about the characters. As I went through the script and are really and as struggled with a first timer a written the script and then. I started looking. At it through the lens of trauma. And I recognize from previous work that I'd done previous research that he was exhibiting the signs of PT SB. He goes in to freeze mode when he gets attacked. And so they know that that as a result of childhood trauma. And so what I when I lifted it in the island's. IA. I empathize. And that became important for me in unlocking America's look I've played a lot of horrible characters on how to help but like the character of understand them and opted group we're. Don't what they do. But I suppose it's important. If you form and some ways. And this show but but I think. In terms of how the our audience reacts. Everybody that I including my family. The people have talked to have a different reaction to the character into the movie and what it means and work whether they sympathize or not. And south what I liked about them it's not that actually it's not telling precisely what you should feel or when. And I think that's rare and is in movies. So it's really it's wanted things that like most about and I think probably why ultimately. It's said yes to the movies because I wasn't sure what I've felt about. Noon. And I look alike that space I'm. I'm comfortable there I don't need all the answers part of it is the the it's of ways. When I have the answer is. I grew bored. And yeah I just are a lot of lane yeah just does not not Islam. But this one really. I think kept us guessing. And. What you can eat cake the character home with you that they usually. When it's a typical Hollywood movie it's over and I know exactly what that thing. So I don't take anything that's the trouble with a lot of movies there's nothing there's nothing there but it. You bring up your family. Coming to you at all having different opinion what do they did to that point that you're today I'm right right. Are. Pretty close should. Without adding this up in the screaming in no way. We we're back to my house again my sisters. Own dark in Q got entered conversation. And my sister summer was like nerd you guys miss that you see on the picture on the back. In the news these initials and that means if you would on the told me there's as an editor Heidi we know that that was real because earlier he said. And there among the welcomed them back to work nature and they go which what is it. I said with every one of the beauty and though it opened. You tell us which one it. If you know really. I don't know I. I don't know and it's what whichever you wanted to be and it's really edged regularly says something about view about the audience armed. Which which I think is unique. To have that experience. Right now there's the whole question of if this movie to violence is it violence in it make other people. Buying what what's your reaction when this controversy stirs up. Well let's talk because I'm according to my research. Talking about it is is is irresponsible. Room. There news coverage and so that you here's where we're I'm stuck because of a lot to say a lot of research that I did about this and he. But the corps my research. You there was. Any kind of the vast increase. In. And these particular type crimes. After 1963. And that year as when. There's certainly an unprecedented amount of news coverage about these crimes and it's so. People that with these crimes as per personality type. Tom the seek personal notoriety they see personal recognition. And that is what they thrive on so mean I've been. He'll up. There's a conversation that I let all have with you off camera and I'll I'll walk you through this whole thing that you'll understand why I have not wanted to talk about it. You that just I don't think that that's helpful owners and the people feel the media feels like. Their being the responsible ones. But I don't think that that's too and I don't think think the evidence is to the contrary. So that's why I've remained quiet about the subject and now you're fortunate. Are hard at 10 o'clock this today there's an average. And I'll be done with yeah they thought it but I'm just saying. I think you're right I think when you publicize it you giving those people that do you have. What ever is wrong with them. Hear hear any protests in the world. Something to you for you know because otherwise you would be talking about what's actually happening in the movie. Rather than how the movies being projected would you. I think as an actor wouldn't have responsibility for your playing the character right. You're not projecting it at some. Yeah I mean. Look I don't think I don't think movies. Influence people not way apple and they they they. Cars half are the issue is called an increase of almost little while he. So I I don't think that the dark figures I don't think it's movies but it. The conversation. Or around them I think in heat can be dangerous. Yeah and whip we see is. People wanting to make that the subject. Of what the movie is rather than what it really. So that is another subject. Well let's just talk about the experience of doing it what was it like working with the near. You know I I. I don't know would Euro like ID I worked with. Marie Franklin and very frightening you know. The talk show host is an artist. You know on mom it depends on the scene and the movement there are times where it feels important to interact with your doctors and in talking between gates and but it didn't seem right this thing we both were so focused on what we're doing in. Really there's this big scene that we have this review and was the nine page theme. Activists don't we hear from moving parts lot of cameras and so just required a lot of dialogue. Require a lot of focus. And I'm here really sit around chatting you know. It was probably afraid that I would turn to a friend these jeans. All time favorite actor. So I could allow myself to think of him Janeiro. So we're in the room I'm I. Kidnapped and does it in yet this movie and what Todd Phillips is doing it it as the director and how it's being written is. Phil of course I think at times it's it has so much taxi driver and so much king of comedy in it. You would that something we never talked about UI should think talk more. You know don't I don't. Knowledge when directors late for me. It's a completely separate. That process that I don't really wanna know your references are higher human beings what lands are using. It's not really relevant to me I have this stated completely different part of the world com. And and so. You know you never say it's anything but I think what this movie with the character shares with those movies where anything. Is. A a complex person who. Who were not sure how to feel about and the bearers a tidy to talk about. We're we're told precisely what the field Allen movies and I think at that time there were so many films we wonder wonderful actors portray this character where. We didn't really know who fully understand what their motivation was. And we were okay without. I'm and to me that's what. It shares with those other films to that we don't them the mysteries part of what the a lore is of watching something I. It's always felt that way. I don't know a good does that you know I'm. A good open I was when I was younger. You know I'm not are not trained in her review that the school and it and but there's the cliche. Of what's my motivation. You know. You figure out what what makes would make some particular thing that there isn't period of time. Were right did. Obsess about that more. And. I guess a third of. Feel like I didn't seem like here like really a reflection of what my experience is is that as a as a human. I don't always understand. What motivates me. The human psychology so complex. We may think that we we know what it is that is motivating our behavior and often times. More often than not it is subconscious. So. I've tried to apply that two of my work. I do a lot of preparation. And then. I've known candidates appreciate it can just forget he tries. And there's a time where I've I've really tried to manage my characters and make decisions. That I would kind of set up these plans but butt end of the chooses actually Irish. Great bit weird you still do that a little bit and not on this film awfully military something. I was. Preparing and monsters before acute in New York to start working with Prague. My own and I found this reference for the for this guy. This young man. The footage looked like it was from the sixties. And he was undergoing psychiatric evaluation. He you know really interest in. Way of speaking in behavior. And I sort of studying him and I should have taught. Is this a good reference when we really liked really misguided he became kind of the the foundation of our per. Partly in the way that he just noticed that the card again as they. But. But I had I was living in a vacuum was just in Los Angeles those all my own I was going through the script and they're trying to cut him make his character work. And reduction or we sure as shooting. Erin. Six weeks in was the first time a plea Joker and we put we did Joker for five days straight and and after. Came out of the Vietnam Arthur. And talk Duluth like. We've when we had the wrong approach. And I've somehow I just become too fixated on this idea and I try to control it. Com and maybe there's that you've been a part of you that. Like you you do that you think you're doing something. This is Smart ideas in Houston. Ands. Looking back on it won't after he joked registered to reevaluate the character who goods and it was wrong. Who it was just it was. The wrong approach and you can that it got. We had to let it there and we had to approach it differently so there's. This is always his balance of but if I hadn't done that work and approach it that way I don't think that would have found that our firm Jupiter and that we have right. So. You have to just had a available along the journey yeah yeah. Com and it's and it's it's enjoyable on the it's nerve racking years terrifying in and you feel like you've wasted all this time. Com but it's part. The whole process. Well let's let's take out questioner to from the world outside and he what they're thinking now they've taken a poll at this Ron G. Salute to Joaquin Phoenix had been waiting for this movie my whole life. Do you think of this as your dream world. Now that vision rant look at that not. Do you ever have one that was you dream well. You know. I wouldn't have all this is legend rule. But it down. I. I can't stop thinking about it. And how often they call it. A law about what else would write you move to do. In general is working together but also specifically is there something else would Joker that there might be interest and so. It ended up being it you will idle its it's nothing that. That I really wanted to do prior to 02 two we're looking angry saying that if you don't do sequels. You know and there's no. Even say that there's more to do I don't know that they were there it but you're not close minded. No addicts. You know I think mean dog would still be shooting now the future because it seemed. Endless. The possibilities wherever you go with hear her. You don't have the need dream. QB in the scene with Batman now haven't had not. Picturing what they could be coming we death. The Batman is coming up who know Wright if this up there are one more question from. The world's Stephen sciences did it ever concern you bit diving into jokers personality. Might affect your ports and how you you personally. Heard actors suffer from mental strain from times. You're one of the art if this sounds so cool oh. But no doubt will never get there and up. I was throughout at all all right. We have that answer and you did this to me last time you were here. Whenever I tell you that this incident song. You thing I don't do that I don't do it and it hears this movie now here he is Joker. You know I'm sitting there watching it and the only time I came out of it was plan. I'm hearing smile. I think he damned thing because as a kid union system to write you would you who's traveling fan. Song and dance. And while he wore Wharton reemerge over very armored room with mr. radler at what we are did you vote created sitting on the streets did thing artistry ha ya and yet. Now you know what it is it's getting four. I know that I'm not gonna cut it and again I say this again because you in the love of your life Rooney Mara whenever she's here. Our exist everything except ever saying so I just think it's that to review he had fled to leases it just as mourners who would ever. Page who says. Do not fiction. Do not give him he texture fill in your. OK all I hope you'll ruin. Is I was on a friend's talks recently and I thing twice. For no reason into the wanted to. There's little in the way now I just Fiat young how big and small up. Looking beautiful look who's figured into the ring in. And everybody absolutely. What are you want to salute. Like. I think. This is just horrifying and it's I find an unprovoked personal attack. I couldn't hear that an odd development that would Pittsburgh government because of okay by me. Electors and officers there's. Get over. Well you know and I'm gonna do and a look at unum an ethic of. Smile though your Holland rate he. So ma. Even though it's look at that and he did he did his I think and longer livable earth. We'll see and together imagine what we could do. I'd get him out take the royal Oak Ridge are. Let. So what.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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