Joaquin Phoenix has revealed that he took inspiration from people affected by pathological laughter for his upcoming turn in Joker.
The acclaimed actor will portray DC’s iconic Clown Prince of Crime in the upcoming origins movie, which is generating early Oscars buzz.
In a new interview with Italian publication Il Vernerdi, Phoenix said that he sourced some of the Joker’s tics from people suffering from pathological laughter.
“I saw videos showing people suffering from pathological laughter, a mental illness that makes mimicry uncontrollable,” he said.
While previous iterations of the character have seen him facing off against Batman, the new film will see him instead doing battle against an evil American corporation.
“With this film, we are not inviting people to rebel,” director Todd Phillips explained. “But let’s try to explain why people could start a revolution.”
The Joker sees Phoenix star as Arthur Fleck, a failed stand-up comedian who becomes a psychopathic criminal mastermind after going insane. He becomes the titular criminal who commits atrocities in Gotham City.
Speaking to NME about his role in the film, comedian and actor Marc Maron said: “I think it’s a very interesting approach to this world. I’ve been somewhat judgemental when it comes to comic book movies and I’ve got a little pushback in the press for being a hypocrite. Whatever I think, if you get a call and someone says, ‘Hey do you wanna do a scene with Robert De Niro and Joaquin Phoenix?’ your principals fall to the wayside.
“If it’s relative to what I think of Marvel movies then it’s like, ‘Yeah, of course I’m gonna do that’. Oddly, it’s not that kind of movie. The approach that Todd Phillips has taken is more of an origin story and a character study of a mentally ill person that becomes The Joker.”
He added: “It’s more of an intimate and gritty movie with a very specific scope. It’s going to be really interesting to see how it comes out.”
“We didn’t follow anything from the comic-books, which people are gonna be mad about,” the writer-director told Empire. “We just wrote our own version of where a guy like Joker might come from. That’s what was interesting to me. We’re not even doing Joker, but the story of becoming Joker. It’s about this man.”