19 Juni 2024

Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker Performance Led to Napoleon Casting

3 min read

Joaquin Phoenix’s performance in Joker gained plenty of praise and accolades. After its premiere at the Venice Film Festival in 2019, the Todd Phillips film went on to gross over $1 billion, the first R rated movie to ever do so. For his portrayal of the titular character, Phoenix earned an Academy Award, a BAFTA, a Critics Choice Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award, among others. Another impressive achievement? He secured the role of Napoleon Bonaparte through his portrayal of the unstable clown. In a conversation with Empire about the upcoming film, Ridley Scott, who directs and produces Napoleon, discussed knowing that Phoenix was the right man for the role while watching Joker:

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“I’m staring at Joaquin and saying, ‘This little demon is Napoleon Bonaparte.’ He looks like him.”

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Napoleon, which is set for a theatrical release on November 22 before heading to AppleTV+, follows the life of the controversial French conqueror Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon continues to be a divisive character in history, something that Scott also addressed with Empire:

“I compare him with Alexander The Great. Adolf Hitler. Stalin. Listen, he’s got a lot of bad sh*t under his belt. At the same time, he was remarkable with his courage, and in his can-do and in his dominance. He was extraordinary.”

The film will pay special attention to Napoleon’s rise to power and his tumultuous relationship with his wife Empress Joséphine, portrayed by Vanessa Kirby. Napoleon also stars Tahar Rahim as Paul Barras, a French Revolution politician. The film, according to Phoenix, however is not a biopic:

“If you want to really understand Napoleon, then you should probably do your own studying and reading. Because if you see this film, it’s this experience told through Ridley’s eyes. It’s just such a complex world. I mean, it’s so f—ing complex. What we were after was something that would capture the feeling of this man.”

Napoleon is written by David Scarpa, who previously collaborated with Scott for All the Money in the World. The film is produced by Scott and Kevin J. Walsh. Napoleon reunites Scott and Phoenix for the first time since 2000’s Gladiator.

Joaquin Phoenix Returns as Joker in Musical Sequel

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Joaquin Phoenix as Joker
Warner Bros. Pictures

This year, we’ll see him as Napoleon, and next year, Phoenix will return as Arthur Fleck in the anticipated Joker sequel, Joker: Folie à Deux. The film is scheduled for an October 2024 release. While plot details are being kept mostly under wraps, it is confirmed that Joker: Folie à Deux will differ significantly from the first film. In a past interview, composer Hildur Guðnadóttir spoke about the decision to make the sequel a musical.

“It’s an interesting decision. And I think it’s really exciting to see how it unfolds. And I think it’s somehow logical at the same time. It’s both logical and also very surprising. For me as well as the audience. So far it’s just been a really beautiful conversation and I’m really excited to see how it unfolds.”

Joker: Folie à Deux also stars Lady Gaga as Harley Quinn and Zazie Beetz as Sophie Dumond. The film is directed by Todd Phillips, who co-wrote the screenplay alongside Scott Silver.