Joaquin Phoenix Reveals the Dark, Real World Origin of His Joker's Laugh

As Academy Award-nominated actor Joaquin Phoenix prepared to take on the title role in Todd Phillips' Joker, he started by looking for inspiration for the character's signature, sinister laughter.

In advance of the film's premiere at the Venice Film Festival at the end of the month, Phoenix has begun promoting the new DC movie, with a newly released photo of himself transformed into the Clown Prince of Crime and an interview where he revealed the real-world origins of his unnerving cackle as the Joker.

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"I started [with the laugh]," Phoenix explained in a translated interview from Il Venerdi, the weekly magazine of the popular Italian newspaper La Repubblica. "I watched videos of people suffering from pathological laughter, a neurological disorder that makes individuals laugh uncontrollably."

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The film's first trailer has depicted the future criminal, Arthur Fleck, laughing creepily while watching a standup comedian. His laughter is seen disturbing subway passengers later in the trailer, with Fleck seemingly unable to stop. With the laughter's dark influences revealed, Phoenix's Joker stands to be a haunting incarnation of the iconic comic book supervillain.

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.

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