Phoenix breaks down his motivation, prep for 'Joker'

US actor Joaquin Phoenix arrives for the screening of the film "Joker" on August 31, 2019, presented in competition during the 76th Venice Film Festival at Venice Lido. Photo by AFP

Joaquin Phoenix says his approach towards the "Joker" role was to just stay away from the past portrayals and develop his own performance, something that was also a key motivating factor in his decision to come aboard the film.

Directed by Todd Philips, the standalone film is being touted as an origin story as well as character study of the Clown Prince of Crime. It premiered at the ongoing Venice Film Festival on Saturday, where it received an eight-minute-long standing ovation from the viewers, reported Deadline.

The critics have also hailed the film with praise especially being directed towards Pheonix for getting into the skin of the character, who has been previously played by the likes Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and Jared Leto.

At the film's press conference, Phoenix, however, said he did not refer to any of the previous versions of the character.

"For me the attraction to make this film was we were going to approach it in our own way. I didn't refer to any past iterations of (the Joker). It just felt like our own creations, which was really important to me and the key to it.

"I wanted the freedom to create something that wasn’t identifiable. This is a fictional character, and I didn’t want a psychiatrist to be able to identify the kind of person he was. We were getting into medication and what issues he might have, but (I thought) let’s step away from that. We want to have the room to create what we want," the actor said.

Physical transformation was the first part of his preparation process, Phoenix revealed, after which he went on to understand the character's mindset.

"We would get close at times where I found that I would identify certain parts of his personality or his motivation and then I would back away from that because I wanted there to be a mystery to the character.

"Throughout the course of shooting it felt like every day we were discovering new parts of his personality, up until the very last day," said Phoenix.

The actor broke down Joker's enigmatic laugh into three types -- "The affliction laugh, the one of the guys laugh and the authentic joy laugh".

"(It's) something that's almost painful. I think for Joker it's a part of him that wants to emerge. I think we all kind of assume what a Joker laugh is and it felt like a new, fresh way of looking at it.

"I didn’t think that I could do it. I kind of practised alone but I asked Todd to come over to audition my laugh. I felt like I had to be able to do it on the spot and in front of somebody else. It was really uncomfortable. It took me a long time," Phoenix said.

"Joker", also featuring Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Brian Tyree Henry and Marc Maron, releases in the US on October 3. PTI RB RB

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