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Here’s your first look at Lady Gaga in Joker 2

It’s mad love at first sight for the singer, reported to be playing Harley Quinn

64th Annual GRAMMY Awards - Arrivals Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic via Getty
Oli Welsh is senior editor, U.K., providing news, analysis, and criticism of film, TV, and games. He has been covering the business & culture of video games for two decades.

Director Todd Phillips has shared a first look at Lady Gaga in character opposite Joaquin Phoenix in Joker: Folie à Deux, the sequel to his smash hit 2019 character study of the famous DC Comics villain.

According to a Hollywood Reporter scoop last year, Gaga is playing a version of Harley Quinn, the Arkham Asylum psychiatrist who falls in love with the Joker and ultimately becomes his partner in crime.

While yet to be announced, that casting is certainly supported by the image Phillips shared to Instagram, which shows Gaga absent Harley’s punky-harlequin get-up, but grasping Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck by the neck and staring into his face with passionate intensity. Fleck, wearing a faded and smudged version of his clown makeup, smiles back. “Happy Valentines Day,” commented Phillips.

It seems as though Phillips, who co-wrote Folie à Deux with his Joker collaborator Scott Silver, is playing up the messed-up, rather one-sided romance of the pair — something that has been at the root of the Harley Quinn character since she was created Paul Dini and Bruce Timm for Batman: The Animated Series 30 years ago, especially in her classic origin episode (and also graphic novella) Mad Love. However, more recent interpretations such as Margot Robbie’s in the Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey films, and the character’s HBO Max animated series, have moved on from that.

It’s also been reported that the new movie is a musical; perhaps Phillips is working through Martin Scorsese’s filmography and adding the great director’s own doomed musical romance, New York, New York, to Joker’s conspicuous homages to Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy.

This is the second image from the set of Joker: Folie à Deux that Phillips has shared. In December last year, he marked the first day of filming with a moody shot of Phoenix, as Fleck, being shaved. Under the rules imposed by new DC Studios management James Gunn and Peter Safran, the film will be labeled as a DC Elseworlds release, making it clear (as if it wasn’t already) that it takes place outside the new DC Universe continuity.

Joker: Folie à Deux is currently in production and slated to be released in theaters on Oct. 4, 2024.

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