Joker and the laugh of Arthur Fleck are rooted in real-life mental health issues according to the film’s director Todd Phillips.
Even though the Joker is straight out of the fantastical world of comics, that doesn’t mean the character can’t be grounded in very real issues. This is just what Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix were going for with their new film Joker.
Speaking at a Q&A (via Screen Rant), Phillips explained how the Joker’s laugh has its roots in a very real neurological condition that actual people have called pseudobulbar affect:
“We researched it, and we studied that. Quite frankly, that laugh could be [a symptom]. People are afflicted in different ways. Some people cry from this, and some people laugh. And it’s always at the wrong moment, and it’s really painful. What we discovered was, it happens from head trauma as a young person, or even older. And it happens from MS. We didn’t necessarily want to give Joker/Arthur MS, so we went with this head trauma thing.
SEE ALSO: Read our Joker review here
“The movie, in every way, tries to be grounded in reality as much as possible. I mean, it still has a foot in the comic book world, for sure. But we just kept thinking, ‘Let’s put everything through a realistic lens.’ Why does he have a white face? Well, we’re going to drop him in acid. I don’t know how real that – while it’s amazing in the comic books, and Jack Nicholson and all that – it doesn’t feel very real that that would happen if you fell into a vat of acid. So, let’s come up with a realistic answer for everything. And that was one for the laugh. So, yeah, we researched it. Does that make sense?”
Do you like this origin story for the character’s laugh? Or would you prefer a less grounded version of the Joker? Let us know in the comments below and on Twitter @flickeringmyth.
Joker centres around the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone story not seen before on the big screen. The exploration of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a man disregarded by society, is not only a gritty character study but also a broader cautionary tale.
Joker is set for release on October 4th 2019 and stars Joaquin Phoenix (The Sisters Brothers), Robert De Niro (Goodfellas), Zazie Beetz (Deadpool 2), Bill Camp (Red Sparrow), Frances Conroy (American Horror Story), Brett Cullen (Narcos), Glenn Fleshler (Billions), Douglas Hodge (Penny Dreadful), Marc Maron (GLOW), Josh Pais (Motherless Brooklyn), Shea Whigham (Kong: Skull Island), Douglas Hodge (Robin Hood) and Dante Pereira-Olson (You Were Never Really Here).