Joaquin Phoenix may be taking on the role as the Joker himself in Clown Prince of Crime’s own origin story in 1980s Gotham City.

Todd Phillips, the director of the origin film, has had his eyes on Phoenix to play the titular role. However, Phoenix has not given fans many hints to whether or not he will be the next Joker. The actor has said it all depends on the narrative and the circumstances surrounding the film.

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In an interview with Fandango, he noted, “I see it as any other movie. I wouldn’t say… ‘I won’t do Westerns.’ It depends on what it is. I don’t really care about the genre, I care about the character and the filmmaker. If you have the ability to transcend the genre, then that’s what you want to do. So I wouldn’t say, hands down, no — I wouldn’t do that kind of movie.”

Playing such an iconic villain comes with a lot of pressure. Jared Leto’s most recent portrayal of the Joker in Suicide Squad was not received well by DC fans, especially in comparison to Heath Ledger’s adaption in the Dark Knight trilogy. Phoenix notes that it is difficult to pull of a different version of the Joker that everyone would favor.

“There are things where I’ve flirted with the possibility where there was the potential for this to be… something that’s actually interesting to me,” Phoenix said. “But then for whatever reason they never got to that place where everyone else feels the same way. And that’s key. Everyone has to want to explore the same thing or else it just doesn’t F–king work. I’m not opposed to it. I don’t make decisions on budget or things like that — it’s really the filmmaker and the character.”

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Rumors have been circulating that this origin film will be a prequel to Ledger’s character in The Dark Knight. However, Phillips shared a statement on his Facebook account stating that the rumors are false and that his film will be completely independent from any past DC films.

“There have been many iterations of the Joker in his 72-year history, but none have been as iconic or defining as Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning portrayal of the character in The Dark Knight. He captured the imagination of moviegoers with his manic psychosis and unclear past. I am incredibly privileged to be able to explore that history and provide the definitive backstory to one of cinemas greatest icons. We want to do the best to ensure the legacy of Heath and his performance while crafting something surprising for fans of the Clown Prince.”

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