Joaquin Phoenix's rendition as the title character of Joker is approaching and, at least stylistically, it couldn't be anymore different than Heath Ledger's Joker in 2008's The Dark Knight. Today, the director Todd Phillips shared the first look, and in it, the Joker seems a lot more silly than menacing.
Phoenix looks like he's straight up clowning around in his Joker makeup, which does away with green hair and the crackled whiteface with black-lined eyes that Ledger wore. Instead, Phoenix looks more like It's Pennywise than the circa-2008 character (or even Jared Leto's more recent take, for that matter). For one, he has painted emphatic red brows and eye makeup that vertically cuts across his eyes and eyelids. Ledger's signature smeared red lipstick is still in tact, but presented in a much less messy way.
The Joker makeup could change before the film comes out, though, as the first look that Philipps shared was simply a screen test. "Camera test (w/ sound)," he posted on Instagram in the caption of the video. "Joker." The clip begins with Phoenix in his normal attire before he slowly morphs into the Joker, set to the Guess Who's 1969 song "Laughing." Another change? Phoenix is wearing a burgundy suit instead of the purple and green one Ledger wore.
As for living up to Ledger's acting in The Dark Knight, for which the star won the best supporting actor Oscar posthumously, Phoenix isn't worried about comparisons. “There are different interpretations,” he said back in April when the film was announced. “It’s so interesting; I was just thinking about it today, it seems so unique in some ways to comic books. I think there’s probably room for that. Maybe it’s like doing a play, like you always hear about people doing something—‘You should have seen this actor in this performance’—but then other actors do it and it’s a different kind of film. I think that genre, comic books, kind of lends itself to having different people play the same character and interpret it in a different way. It’s kind of built into the source material in some ways. I think it’s cool when people do that.”
The movie is set for an October 4, 2019 release.