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Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker makeup revealed in behind-the-scenes footage


Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker makeup from 2019 Joker movie Todd Phillips/Warner Bros. Pictures
Matt Patches is an executive editor at Polygon. He has over 15 years of experience reporting on movies and TV, and reviewing pop culture.

Earlier this month, The Hangover director Todd Phillips kicked off production on his still-untitled standalone Joker movie by revealing a photo of star Joaquin Phoenix — but it wasn’t your typical comic-book character unveiling.

The image showed Phoenix in plain clothes, staring deadpan at the camera. “Arthur,” read the caption to the original photo, confirming rumors that most of Phoenix’s performance would be playing “Arthur Fleck,” who will go from failing stand-up comedian to a villainous crime lord who could one day contend with The Batman. Production material for the Joker movie describes the film as being an “exploration of a man disregarded by society [that] is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale.” There wasn’t a whiff of Joker in the image, save for a possibility of unhinged behavior behind the eyes.

But with the movie currently shooting in New York, Phillips couldn’t help but give tease a little bit more of his gritty take on the material, and set it apart from past incarnations brought to life by Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, and Jared Leto. On Instagram, the writer-director — who co-wrote the Joker film with The Fighter and The Finest Hours screenwriter Scott Silver — dropped another dispatch from set: screen test footage showing Phoenix’s before and after looks.

Set to The Guess Who’s “Laughing,” the haunting clip features a muted Phoenix mugging to camera as a flicker of clown footage plays over his face. The clip then transitions to Phoenix in full make-up. Beware: this may be nightmare fuel for you coulrophobics.

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Camera test (w/ sound). Joker.

A post shared by Todd Phillips (@toddphillips1) on

Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, and Marc Maron co-star in Phillips’ Joker movie, which is set to hit theaters on Oct. 4, 2019.

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