Joker‘s cinematographer has admitted that he was concerned that Joaquin Phoenix would “go too far” into the role during filming.
The role has become notorious in the past, with Heath Ledger infamously immersing himself in the character for 2008’s The Dark Knight.
Speaking to NME at last night’s (February 2) BAFTAs, Lawrence Sher revealed he did have some worries about Phoenix’s commitment to the role, especially given Ledger’s experience.
“Nobody has ever asked me that, but a little bit,” the cinematographer said about Phoenix’s take on the character. “I did, I thought because of Heath and what happened before the release of the movie, yeah. It was like a tiny bit in my head just being concerned for when people take something on so deeply, to be a character that has madness inside of them how can it affect them? So a little bit of that.”
Asked whether he had any specific examples, Sher added: “No, outside of just feeling like I just wanted to give him a sandwich, because he had lost so much weight. I was a little concerned for his health.
“No, I never saw that, but he is 100%… he hurt his knee kicking in the alley on like day four or something. Hurt his knee really bad. He didn’t tell anybody how much it was hurt, but he suffered with it the whole movie. Later in the movie he’s running – he was doing a lot of running in that last part. He never complained. And I always would say, ‘don’t run full speed.’ He has no half-speed. I admire it big time.”
Sher also raved about watching the BAFTA-winning actor on set, recalling: “Once we got to day one – we shot the scene where he’s talking to the social worker, and that was the first time really I got to see Joaquin work. And after one take I realised this movie is going to be something special. And this idea that for 58 more days I get to watch him work, and see how [director] Todd [Phillips] connected with him, it was a really, really special movie.
“[He’s] the most connected, present actor I’ve ever seen, insomuch as… I said to my wife after day one, its as if I’ve never really seen someone really act before because he was just so fully inside the character in a way that felt really new to me. He always felt right there, you forgot that he was acting.
“That changed over the course of the movie, that changed once he started playing Joker. His whole sort of vibe and energy changed and shifted as he played different parts of the character. But he’s also a really sweet guy. He wants to maintain this mystery, but he’s a really sweet guy.”
“It’s like watching a tightrope walker with no net,” he added of the more troubling scenes in the movie. “Here’s the thing, even as an audience member I always thought this way with Joaquin, but having to shoot him I never wanted to look away.
“There was never a moment when you sort of drifted off in your own head. It was always like I have to watch this guy because I have no idea what he’s going to do next. He’ll probably only do it once, so let’s make sure we get it.”
‘Joker’ will be available on 4K, Blu-ray, Limited Edition Amazon Exclusive 4K & Blu-ray Steel Book, Limited Edition tradewide 4K & Blu-ray Steel Book, and DVD on February 10. Get it on Digital Download now