Joaquin Phoenix on 'Joker' Violence Controversy: "It Was an Awkward Position to Be In"
Published Nov 14, 2019Joaquin Phoenix has once again responded to criticism that Joker could inspire real-life violence and explained why he was so hesitant to address the controversy in the press.
Speaking to the L.A. Times, the actor explained that he was conflicted about even commenting on the potential for copycat killers — which many took as him avoiding the topic.
"It was an awkward position to be in because I thought, 'Well, I can't address this because this is the thing that is potentially part of the problem — that's precisely what you shouldn't do,'" he said, voicing his concerns about lending credence to anyone who would emulate his character's actions in the film.
At one point during Joker's initial press junket, Phoenix even walked out of an interview when asked about the potential to incite real-life violence.
"So it suddenly seemed like I was being evasive and trying to avoid this topic because it made me uncomfortable," he told the Times. "But really I was thinking, 'This is the very thing that would excite this kind of personality.'"
Amongst those who argued that the film could incite violence were families of the victims of the Aurora, CO, movie theatre that was the site of a mass shooting during a 2012 screening of The Dark Knight Rises. The cinema did not host screenings of Joker.
One theatre in California pulled screenings as well, after police received a "credible threat."
Prior to the film's release, the U.S. military issued a memo about incel violence, warning the army to prepare for possible incidents at screenings of Joker.
Despite all the controversy, the Todd Phillips-directed Joker was recently declared the most profitable comic book movie of all time, raking in more than $1 billion USD when it only cost $62.5 million to make.