Director Todd Phillips and star Joaquin Phoenix sought to keep Joker focused as a character study, and doing so for a character as traditionally unrelatable and complicated as the Clown Prince of Crime can be difficult, so it should come as no surprise that the film underwent rewrites, even during production, with several scenes tweaked here and there to better accommodate the character.
Phillips recently revealed the one such scene in a video from the screenplay analysis website, Screenplayed, in which the Joker director described the pivotal moment in which Arthur Fleck begins to dance in an empty public bathroom, having just committed his first murder, and how that scene was completely off-script.
"In the script, Arthur was to come into the bathroom, hide his gun, wash off his makeup, staring at himself in the mirror and saying, ‘What have I done?'" Phillips explained. He went on to say that the problem with the scripted scene simply "didn’t seem very much like Arthur. Why would Arthur care to hide his gun? We tossed around a million ways to just do something different."
The director then discussed how the dance came about, revealing that after an hour or so into trying, he played a piece by the film's composer, Hildur Guðnadóttir, which got Phoenix dancing, "He just starts doing this dance and we looked at each other and knew it was the scene. It made sense to us... it’s a little bit of Joker coming out."
Joker has evidently divided critics and audiences, with some hating the film and others loving it. Everyone seems to have interpreted the film differently. One thing that all audience members seem to agree on is the fact that Joker features one of Joaquin Phoenix's finest performances, with many praising his ability to progress the character slowly and in such a way as to ensure the audience's understanding of him.
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 is in theaters now.