Ever since Joaquin Phoenix was confirmed as the Joker, we knew we were getting something different to what we’ve seen previously with Heath Ledger and *shudders* Jared Leto.
So far the signs are indeed pointing in that direction. It’s getting an R-rating, it’s a low(ish)-budget character piece, it’s an original story not based on any pre-existing comic book and it’s trying to position itself as Oscar-bait.
But what about Phoenix’s take on the character? What is he bringing to the Clown Prince of Crime that we haven’t seen before.
Well if we’re to take his word for it, he did some seriously cooked prep to nail his Joker laugh and character, and it all sounds insane.
Chatting to Italian magazine Il Vernerdi (via IndieWire), Phoenix said he crafted his Joker laugh and character by studying up victims of a disorder called Pathological Laughter or Crying (PLC).
“I saw videos showing people suffering from pathological laughter, a mental illness that makes mimicry uncontrollable.”
It sounds like he’s making this stuff up but PLC is indeed a real thing and the symptoms sound absolutely terrifying:
“Patients with PLC are subject to relatively uncontrollable episodes of laughter, crying or both. The episodes occur either without an apparent triggering stimulus or following a stimulus that would not have led the subject to laugh or cry prior to the onset of the condition.
“PLC is a disorder of emotional expression rather than a primary disturbance of feelings, and is thus distinct from mood disorders in which laughter and crying are associated with feelings of happiness or sadness.”
Holy crap, that’s next level method acting right there.
Props to Phoenix for not half-arsing this Joker gig. He could’ve did some weird Jared Leto “method-y” stuff but it sounds like he actually did his homework to make something unique.
This application of real-life medical issues also hints at how Phoenix’s Joker will be nothing like what we’ve seen before. The film is going all in on the psychological stuff and there’s no doubt Joaquin will bring his considerable acting chops to the table for it.
But will this unique approach to Joker by Joaquin Phoenix result in a performance that’ll rank up there alongside Heath Ledger or will it fall flat on its face like Jared Leto’s “acting”?
We’ll find out soon enough when Joker drops on October 4.