Joaquin Phoenix is reportedly in talks to play iconic DC Comics villain The Joker in a standalone film.
The Hangover director Todd Phillips is working on a Joker origin movie and has selected the Walk the Line actor as his top choice, with sources telling Variety that he met with Phoenix in late 2017 and the actor has agreed to the role. However, negotiations at Warner Bros. are not yet underway.
Phillips, who has also worked on Road Trip and War Dogs, will direct the movie and co-write it with Scott Silver. Their story will reportedly look and feel more like a gritty crime drama than a comic book movie adaptation, and will be set in the fictional Gotham City in the 1980s. It will look into what happened to the Joker to turn him into an evil criminal mastermind and Batman's most famous adversary.
If he gets the part, this will be the first time Phoenix has starred as a comic book character. He was previously in the frame for the role of Lex Luthor in another DC movie, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which ultimately went to Jesse Eisenberg, and was in talks to play Marvel superhero Doctor Strange, who was played by Benedict Cumberbatch.
The Joker has been portrayed onscreen a number of times, most notably by Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, and Heath Ledger, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Role for playing the villain in The Dark Knight.
The film is a standalone project which will exist outside of the DC Extended Universe, which includes films such as Wonder Woman and Justice League, and will therefore not affect Jared Leto's incarnation of The Joker in the Suicide Squad movies.