There’s a good idea that Joaquin Phoenix could possibly play the Joker, he has a decent look for it and could pass for the clown prince. But the idea is whether or not he could get crazy enough for the role. Let’s face it, the guys that have played the Joker to date have been able to either get their voice into a different octave that makes them sound absolutely nuts or they’ve been able to go so nutty that you’d believe they were the character if you didn’t know any better. In case you need a reminder, Jack Nicholson and the late Heath Ledger were geniuses when it came to the role. There’s no need to compare them with each other since for their own movies they were brilliant.
One thing you can say about Ledger’s Joker is that he was more updated and had what was needed for a modern audience. So did Nicholson back in the day, as his portrayal of the Joker was so great that people were seen emulating him on Halloween for at least a couple years after the first Batman film came out. The question now is whether Phoenix would be able to nail that level of crazy if he was to be selected. At this point it really feels like he’d be more of a somber Joker, a deadly serious Joker than anyone else that might do it. He doesn’t seem to have that maniacal spark that the Joker is so well known for. Looking at the picture above and below you get the feeling that he’d be ruthless enough, but still not devilishly playful enough to really pull off the role.
Personally I think he might be a better choice than Leonardo DiCaprio simply because Leo doesn’t seem to be quite ruthless enough. Don’t get me wrong, Leo is great for the roles he’s played in the past, but this is something that requires a different kind of touch altogether. The Joker is a role unlike so many others that needs to be handled with something akin to respect and a wary sense of self that won’t all a person to simply slip into the madness that Ledger found out about during filming. That’s how deep the character is, that the fiction of his persona is still a powerful lure that can draw people in and eventually break them down if they truly try to become him onscreen.
There are other characters like this, so the Joker isn’t a fluke, he’s not a mystical being that draws just anyone in. But the part needs to be given the respect that’s due and it also needs someone that can walk that fine line between sanity and the abyss and not get pushed or pulled over into the madness that waits on the other side. So many people might claim that ‘no, it’s just another role’ but in reality madness is only a hop, skip, and a jump away.
If you don’t believe that then you’ve never felt it. The part of the Joker needs someone who can straddle the line.