Updated April 14, 2019. “Joker” — the highly anticipated origin story about the DC Comics Batman villain — will star vegan actor and animal rights activist Joaquin Phoenix.
Fans first got a taste of what is to come in an Instagram post shared by the film’s director Todd Phillips last year. The clip, titled “camera test,” showed a brief shot of Phoenix standing against a dark backdrop before he appeared in full clown makeup, the Joker’s signature style.
Phillips is best known for the “Hangover” franchise. “Joker” marks his first comic-book movie. It’s also a departure for Phoenix, who’s become known for quirky independent features like Spike Jonze’s 2013 film “Her,” which earned Phoenix a Golden Globes nomination.
In 2015 the actor told Time Out London that he had turned down blockbuster roles a few times.
“I’ve flirted with several of those films, having meetings and getting close, but ultimately it never felt like they’d really be fulfilling. There were too many requirements that went against my instincts for character. I’ve been spoiled. I’ve never had to make those compromises. I’ve not met a director yet with one of those films where we go through the script, they say: ‘You know what, fuck this set-piece, let’s focus on the character!’ I understand, but it’s best I don’t do it.”
But this opportunity was different, Phoenix told the Collider last July.
“I take a lot of time and consideration when making decisions and what I’m gonna work on always. So, in some ways, the process, which is obviously reading a script and meeting a filmmaker and then continuing to have meetings and discussions with Todd [Phillips]. I think he’s very impressive and he seems to have a very interesting understanding of this world and what he’s trying to say. And so there is something very appealing about that and working with him on this particular project. It feels unique, it is its own world in some ways, and maybe, mostly, it scares the [expletive] out of me or something. It might as well be the thing that scares you the most.”
Phoenix, who was raised vegetarian, has been a longtime vegan animal rights activist lending his star power to films such as 2005’s documentary “Earthlings” and most recently, Chris Delforce’s “Dominion,” which highlights animal abuse and industries in Australia.
The vegan star’s new role was honored by street art and clothing brand, The Vegan Club, which created a print of Phoenix in his joker makeup earlier this month.
The new Joker film also stars Zazie Beetz who revealed that her vegan diet helped her to get in shape for another superhero film: “Deadpool 2.”
“Joker” is expected to hit theaters in October 2019.