Joaquin Phoenix in talks to play the Joker in 80s-set Scorsese-produced tale

Joaquin Phoenix is reportedly eyeing the role of the Joker in a new 80s-set origins tale from The Hangover director Todd Phillips.

According to sources at Variety, the Oscar-nominated actor was the top choice for the role with some stating that he has already signed on but Warner Bros has not yet provided confirmation. Phillips will co-write and direct the film. He is rumored to have met with Phoenix in 2017 and is waiting for studio approval.

The film will explore the character’s time in Gotham as he becomes a supervillain. It will be produced by Martin Scorsese and the tone has been likened more to a gritty crime drama than one of DC’s recent entries.

It will exist in a separate timeline from the one in DC’s pre-established cinematic universe which included Suicide Squad, where Jared Leto plays the Joker. He is set to reprise the role in a sequel as well as a spin-off film centered around his relationship with Harley Quinn.

There had been rumors that Leonardo DiCaprio would take on the role but the plan fell through. Phoenix has previously passed on playing both Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the titular role of Doctor Strange.

“I’ve flirted with several of those films, having meetings and getting close, but ultimately it never felt like they’d really be fulfilling,” Phoenix told Time Out in 2015. “There were too many requirements that went against my instincts for character. I’ve been spoiled. I’ve never had to make those compromises. I’ve not met a director yet with one of those films where we go through the script, they say: ‘You know what, fuck this set-piece, let’s focus on the character!’ I understand, but it’s best I don’t do it.”

This year will see him star alongside Rooney Mara in biblical drama Mary Magdalene and Gus Van Sant’s new drama He Won’t Get Far On Foot, which premiered at Sundance in January.

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