Which incarnation of the Joker has the best laugh? A debate that will rage on amongst geeks for millenia to come. What is indisputable though is the importance of that laugh, and this was an element of the character that the star of the upcoming Joker did not take lightly.
Speaking alongside Joker director, Todd Phillips, at a Q&A session following a showing of the film, Joaquin Phoenix revealed a few insights into how they came about crafting the iconic ha-ha-ha’s. The actor, who is getting a lot of Oscar buzz, reveals that he auditioned himself for the laugh. He explains.
“‘Cause I didn’t think I could do it. And ’cause [Todd] showed me some videos, right? So he showed me some videos. Of some laughs. And I thought, that’s really good. And he – in the script it described the laugh being almost painful. And I thought that was a really interesting way to describe laughter. And so I just kind of like, I don’t know, you came over to my house. I tried. And it was really uncomfortable. Because I spent five minutes trying to work it up…and finally you said, ‘You don’t have to do this.'”
Apparently, Todd Phillips explained to Joaquin Phoenix that he didn’t need to audition the laugh, because he already had the part locked in. But Phoenix insisted that he had to do it. He further explains himself and why the laugh was so important.
“I have to, ’cause if I don’t do this now, if I can’t force myself to find it now, then forever we’re gonna – I’m gonna fucking puss out and I’m not gonna do it. So…so we did.”
Director Todd Phillips went onto describe how the laugh changed throughout production, along with Phoenix’s means of conjuring it on set.
“For him to summon it on the day of the shooting was always different and sometimes he would need time to do it honestly. I’m talking about the affliction laugh. That was to me probably, I can’t speak for you, but the hardest one to do. There’s the laugh where he’s fake laughing to be one of the guys or in the comedy club. And then there’s the end in the [spoiler] where he’s genuinely laughing at something. But the affliction laugh I think was probably hard to muster up, so there were times on set where he would be a little bit pacing.”
It is interesting to note that even an actor of Joaquin Phoenix’s calibre can still get butterflies in his stomach when it comes to performing, even when it is just in front of one person. Clearly the actor nailed it, and from what we have been teased in the trailers Phoenix has nailed the laugh sounding ‘almost painful’ as it strains from his throat to pierce our eardrums.
Phoenix’s nerves are surely a testament to the actor’s commitment to the role, a commitment he has demonstrated throughout his career, and his dedication to getting the laugh right leaves no wonder as to why his performance has received such a positive critical response so far, with the film currently sitting at a fresh rating of 75% on Rotten Tomatoes.
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We will soon see the final result of that dedication when Joker guffaws his way onto our screens on October 4th. This latest Joker tidbit comes from /film.