Joker director Todd Phillips has revealed that he had to cut a scene from the Joaquin Phoenix movie in order to keep it rated R.
While speaking to SBIFF Cinema Society, Joker director Todd Phillips explained that there were a few scenes that he had to cut, the most notable of which was a scene had Joaquin Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck doing something bizarre while inside a bathtub. What this was, the director did not fully explain, but it seems as though the scene in question was meant to be highly disturbing.
Usually, when a “Hard-R” movie has to have a scene cut from the theatrical release in order to get MPAA approval, it’s because the scene in question is deemed pornographic. However, Todd Phillips suggested that the scene that was removed is not sexually explicit in nature, but is simply too bizarre for a standard R-rated movie to handle. Here’s what the director said to SBIFF Cinema Society:
“So the other thing that’s great about Joaquin is that he’s always up to try things. So, we would finish our days early sometimes and we started doing this thing, Joaquin and I, we called it a study of insomnia. It was our own fun little thing, like ‘We have an hour left in the day, let’s light this kitchen, Joaquin let’s do something over by the sink or the fridge, and let’s just set up two cameras.’ [Larry Sher] would operate one, [Jeff Groth] would operate the other, and we would do these things — the fridge was one of those. It wasn’t in the script it was something that Joaquin just kind of did and there was a few others, there’s only one other that’s in the movie and it’s when he’s laughing after he goes to [Zazie Beetz’s] apartment and he comes back down the hall and he’s laughing alone in that living room, that was another one… There were two or three others we shot, one that is amazing in a bathtub, but I don’t think we can actually include it in an R-rated movie and it’s not because it was pornographic, it was just insane.”
You can watch the full interview with Todd Phillips below.
The contents of the mysteriously-cut bathroom scene is something that will likely interest fans of the R-rated character study, and hopefully it gets included as a deleted scene when Joker makes its way to home video formats. For now, we’ll just have to speculate about what it was about the scene that could have given the MPAA pause.
Here is the official synopsis for Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker:
Director Todd Phillips’ Joker centers around the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone fictional story not seen before on the big screen. Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck, who is indelibly portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, is of a man struggling to find his way in Gotham’s fractured society. A clown-for-hire by day, he aspires to be a stand-up comic at night…but finds the joke always seems to be on him. Caught in a cyclical existence between apathy and cruelty, Arthur makes one bad decision that brings about a chain reaction of escalating events in this gritty character study.
Directed by Todd Phillips from a script he co-wrote with Scott Silver, Joker stars Joaquin Phoenix, Zazie Beetz, Bill Camp, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Glenn Fleshler, Douglas Hodge, Marc Maron, Josh Pais, and Shea Whigham. The movie is not part of the DC Extended Universe, and seems to play into Warner Bros.’s interests of making creator-driven superhero movies over necessarily building a hyper-connected shared universe… At least for the time being.
Joker is now playing in theaters. Stay tuned for the latest news regarding the Joaquin Phoenix movie!