Joaquin Phoenix is hitting headlines after it was revealed he stormed out of an interview when a critic questioned whether his new film Joker could incite violence.
However, its now been revealed that the actor, 44, defended the controversial movie in the days leading up to that walk-out.
On Monday, IGN reported that Phoenix stood by the psychological thriller when he spoke with them in Los Angeles last week.
‘I don’t think it’s the responsibility of a filmmaker to teach the audience morality or the difference between right or wrong,’ he told the publication.
Joker, which won top prize at the Venice Film Festival earlier this month, sees Phoenix play an aspiring comedian who morphs into a nihilistic murderer when his career fails to take off.
The violent film was inspired by dark movies from the 1970s, including Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver.
‘I think that, for most of us, you’re able to tell the difference between right and wrong. And those that aren’t are capable of interpreting anything in the way that they may want to,’ Phoenix continued.
‘People misinterpret lyrics from songs. They misinterpret passages from books.’
Joaquin Phoenix is vigorously defending his new psychological thriller Joker amid accusations that its depictions of violence may negatively encourage viewers
Joker, which won top prize at the Venice Film Festival earlier this month, sees Phoenix play an aspiring comedian who morphs into a nihilistic murderer known as ‘The Joker’ when his career fails to take off
When quizzed on whether he believe the film might ‘fuel’ someone to carry out a violent act, he responded: ‘I think if you have somebody that has that level of emotional disturbance, they can find fuel anywhere. I just don’t think that you can function that way’.
Joker’s director, Todd Phillips, also rejected claims that the movie’s depiction of murder and brutality implicitly encouraged violence.
‘The movie makes statements about a lack of love, childhood trauma, lack of compassion in the world. I think people can handle that message,’ he told IGN.
He tartly added: ‘To me, art can be complicated and oftentimes art is meant to be complicated. If you want uncomplicated art, you might want to take up calligraphy, but filmmaking will always be a complicated art’.
Origin story: In Joker, Phoenix plays struggling stand-up comic Arthur Fleck who, after being ignored by society, descends into madness, wreaking havoc in Gotham City
Phoenix and Phillips spoke with IGN just days before Phoenix walked out during a now famous interview with The Telegraph.
The walk-out came after the paper’s film critic, Robbie Collin, asked the star whether he worried that his murderous character might ‘perversely end up inspiring exactly the kind of people it’s about, with potentially tragic results.’
According to Collin, Phoenix replied, ‘Why? Why would you…? No, no,’ and then got up and left the room.
He returned an hour later after consulting with a press rep for Warner Bros., the studio releasing the feature.
Phoenix allegedly explained that he had panicked and that he had never thought about the question of the R-rated film inspiring others to act out.
Joker opens in theaters on October 4.
Joker’s director, Todd Phillips (right), also rejected claims that the movie’s depiction of murder and brutality implicitly encouraged violence
Joker opens in theaters on October 4