With Joker, Joaquin Phoenix's Arthur Fleck seems set to give audiences an unusually nuanced look at Batman's nemesis and his descent into madness.
While the Joker is usually portrayed as a cartoonish clown or the ultimate embodiment evil, the first trailer for director Todd Phillips' upcoming film seemed to indicate a relatively more grounded take Clown Prince of Crime.
Now, one of the film's stars, Brian Tyree Henry, has opened up about how the film will cast the Joker as a deeply human character.
“Villains are never born that way, they’re made,” Henry told IndieWire. “There’s something that happens in their lives that they give up their faith in humanity; they see the flaws of humanity and mankind and feel like they must correct it."
While he didn't elaborate on how the Joker will attempt to correct society's ills, he added that the film will cast the villain as a sympathetic, almost empathetic figure.
"What happens with Joker is you start to see how he really was a happy person," Henry said. "He really was trying to find this hope in humanity until it broke him down and he just had to give up and reshape it.”
Henry added that the relationship between the Joker and his mother, played by Frances Conroy, will be one of the film's core relationships.
"That is another thing that you're going to see—that he was capable of love at some point," Henry said. "But at the end of day, I think it's all about how he was made that way, how he didn't start being that kind of person."
Directed by Todd Phillips, Joker stars Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Bill Camp, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Glenn Fleshler, Douglas Hodge, Marc Maron, Josh Pais and Shea Whigham. The film arrives in theaters Oct. 4.