Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix have gone back and forth on the idea of a “Joker” sequel, but a followup film is unquestionably on Warner Bros.’ minds now that the original has grossed over $930 million worldwide and could be headed above the $1 billion mark. Phoenix confirmed in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times part of the draw of the “Joker” role was that it was a “one-off” and it wouldn’t bind him to a years-long franchise.
“I guess the fear was that you’d get locked into doing something repeatedly that you don’t really care about, that doesn’t motivate you or excite you,” Phoenix said. “Part of the whole attraction to me [of ‘Joker’] was there was no expectation. I didn’t sign a deal to do [more movies]. It was a one-off.”
And yet, Phoenix says the idea of sequel didn’t take long to manifest. “Long before the release or before we had any idea if it would be successful, we talked about sequels,” Phoenix said. “In the second or third week of shooting, I was like, ‘Todd, can you start working on a sequel? There’s way too much to explore.’ It was kind of in jest — but not really.”
Phoenix said that he “wouldn’t just do a sequel just because the first movie is successful,” but if an exciting idea can be crafted then he would reprise the role. During the production of “Joker,” Phoenix asked the on-set photographer if he would shoot him in character so they could create mock sequel posters in a “tongue-in-cheek” attempt to show director Todd Phillips the possibility of another movie.
“I basically said, ‘You could take this character and put him in any movie,’” Phoenix said. “So I did a photo shoot with the on-set photographer and we made posters where I photoshopped Joker into 10 classic movies: ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ ‘Raging Bull,’ ‘Yentl.’ If you see it, you’re like, ‘Yeah, I’d watch that movie.’ ‘Yentl’ with Joker? That would be amazing!”
What Phoenix’s poster stunt hints about a “Joker” sequel is that it would have a wildly different tone than what Phillips presented in the current smash hit. “Joker” was inspired by gritty 1970s character studies such as Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver.” It seems like Phoenix would want a sequel to have drastically different cinematic reference points.
“We’ve only talked about the fact that if we ever did one — and I’m not saying we are because right now we’re not — it couldn’t just be this wild and crazy movie about the ‘Clown Prince of Crime,’” Phillips told the Times about a sequel. “That just doesn’t interest us. It would have to have some thematic resonance in a similar way that this does.”
“Joker” is now playing in theaters nationwide. Head over to the Los Angeles Times’ website to read more from Phoenix.