Joaquin Phoenix Says He Was ''Obsessed'' With Losing 52-Pounds for The Joker

The actor opens up about the challenges of transforming into the Joker for his new film.

By emily belfiore Sep 30, 2019 9:21 PMTags
Joaquin Phoenix, JokerShutterstock

Joaquin Phoenix transforms himself into the Joker for his latest film and that required losing a whopping 52 pounds.

Phoenix opened up about how losing the weight took a toll on him, revealing that it became a "disorder" for him.

"Once you reach the target weight, everything changes," the Oscar nominee tells The Associated Press. "Like so much of what's difficult is waking up every day and being obsessed over like 0.3 pounds. Right? And you really develop like a disorder."

But in light of the physical and mental challenges of losing 52 pounds, Phoenix says that it was necessary for him to have a tiny, delicate frame as it helped carry out the iconic comic book villain's movements and mannerisms.

"But I think the interesting thing for me is what I had expected and anticipated with the weight loss was these feelings of dissatisfaction, hunger, a certain kind of vulnerability and a weakness," Phoenix says.

"But what I didn't anticipate was this feeling of kind of fluidity that I felt physically," he continues. "I felt like I could move my body in ways that I hadn't been able to before. And I think that really lent itself to some of the physical movement that started to emerge as an important part of the character."


Phoenix also revealed that late actor and performer Ray Bolger heavily influenced the Joker's quirky dance moves in the movie. "There was a particular song called ‘The Old Soft Shoe' that he performed and I saw a video of it and there's this odd arrogance almost to his movements and, really, I completely just stole it from him," the star explains. "He does this thing of turning his chin up. This choreographer, Michael Arnold, showed me that and tons of videos and I zeroed in on that one. 'That was Joker, right?' There's an arrogance to him, really. That was probably the greatest influence. But also disco."

While the actor's performance is largely applauded, the film in itself has been criticized for its dark content and sympathetic tone towards the villain. Especially considering the shooting that took place in Aurora, Colorado during a screening of The Dark Knight. However, Warner Bros. tells critics, "Make no mistake: neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind. It is not the intention of the film, the filmmakers or the studio to hold this character up as a hero."

The Joker hits theaters on October 4.