Joaquin Phoenix & Todd Phillips on the ‘Joker’ Scene That Was Hardest to Cut

     October 15, 2019

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What was the hardest scene to cut from Joker? Can we expect a director’s cut down the pike? Director Todd Phillips… has some thoughts. “I hate fucking extended cuts. I hate deleted scenes… They’re deleted for a reason.” With simple, blunt language, Phillips basically told Collider’s Steven Weintraub that in sharp contrast to the controversy surrounding Zack Snyder/Joss Whedon’s DC debacle of Justice League, we can never expect a “Phillips cut” of his box-office busting, dark crime drama magnum opus. “The movie that exists is exactly the movie I want it to be and I will never show a deleted scene,” insisted Phillips. However — that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some good material left on the cutting room floor.

After star Joaquin Phoenix cracked jokes that there weren’t just deleted scenes, there were “deleted acts,” he got into the nitty-gritty as to what Arthur Fleck-centered sequences didn’t make the final cut — and what he missed the most.

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Image via Warner Bros.

“There was a scene that, that during the shoot we thought was one of the best scenes and we loved his behavior in the scene, and I’d always really liked the scene. And Todd told me and said, ‘We’re cutting that scene out.’ And at first I thought, like, ‘Wait a minute, what do you mean you cut that scene out?’ And then of course I saw it, and it was very obvious. It has to go.”

Despite playing a psychopathic clown criminal who develops a taste for narcissism and blood (at the end, literally!), it’s quite compelling to hear Phoenix patiently reveal that he understands the movie’s better without the scene, despite his sheer enthusiasm for its quality. In fact, Phoenix loves this aspect of movies in general, saying “That’s just what’s so cool about movies, right? You can have a great scene, it’s something that makes sense, but the movie is the collection of all of these scenes and they have to work together to tell the story, and it actually made that whole sequence so smooth.”

So what was the scene, anyway? Apparently, Arthur spoke with Randall (Glenn Fleshler), the Ha-Ha’s coworker who originally lends Arthur a gun, for a second time in the stairwell. In the finished film, this deleted sequence gets a callback when Arthur writes on the sign leading down the stairwell. But, as Phoenix put it, not seeing the original sequence “makes total sense, and then you’re fine with it.”

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Image via Warner Bros.

However, that doesn’t mean Phillips and Phoenix still don’t love that scene on its own. Phillips called losing the sequence “a heartbreaker,” and admitted it “might’ve been the last scene I cut out.” In fact, Phillips later promised to renege on his convictions, stating, “Maybe I’ll release that one.” Wait, really? Well… no. One second later, he clarified: “I’m teasing.” Nuts! So we’ll really never get any extended Joker footage? Don’t lose hope just yet:

“It’s funny, you talked about deleted scenes before and I was just thinking, while I don’t like deleted scenes, we did cut this fun thing together of all the times (to Phoenix) — I haven’t showed it to you yet — of him walking out on Murray Franklin because every time the guy would go, Murray would stand and go, ‘Please welcome Joker,”‘and the curtains would open and he comes out and does something different every time. You know the thing in the movie, he spins, he kisses the woman. But we cut this thing together of ‘Please welcome Joker,’ and I don’t know, we did it 13 times maybe, and they’re all different and they’re so funny and there’s so many good ones. I was like, ‘Oh, I wonder why I didn’t use that one?'”

I don’t know about you, but I need to see this supercut of Joker’s entrances, and I need it, like, yesterday.

Want more on Joker? Check out our other excerpts from our exclusive interview with Phoenix and Phillips.

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