'Joker': Joaquin Phoenix reflects on finding his own version of classic character

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Joaquin Phoenix plays the title role in the new movie "Joker." He starts out as a guy named Arthur Fleck whose life, we see, has not been easy. The film shows us what happened that made him become Gotham City's most wanted.

"In the script, when it described his laugh, it said, 'it's almost painful.' And I thought that was a really interesting way of approaching this iconic laugh," said Phoenix. "And, I think, something that I really wouldn't have thought of."

As the film plays out, we see the character's pain and his struggle. Phoenix said he'd never worked with someone quite like director Todd Phillips, who actually encouraged him to make mistakes to help bring out this "Joker."

"He was willing to let things fall apart so that we might be able to find them," said Phoenix. "He didn't need me to get it right away. I think that was the only way that we could kind of find the character, was to make those mistakes."

Phillips said going into this production, he always knew it was going to be an R-rated movie; so parents, beware.

"We wrote it and pitched it and conceived of it as a stripped down, R-rated character study of one of the great villains of all time," said Phillips. "The disclaimer is that it's R-rated and don't bring your 11-year-old to it. I can't parent you more than that but the movie is not for everyone. And not every movie should be for everyone. And this movie is not for 11- and 12 -year-olds."

"Joker" is in theaters Friday, Oct. 4.
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