“I didn’t like the way it celebrated violence”: Ridley Scott Wasn’t a Fan of Joaquin Phoenix’s ‘Joker’ Despite Choosing Actor for Upcoming ‘Napoleon’ Movie

Despite casting Joaquin Phoenix in his upcoming movie Napoleon after watching Joker, Ridley Scott did not enjoy the movie due to the violence in it

Ridley Scott Wasn’t a Fan of Joaquin Phoenix’s ‘Joker’ Despite Choosing Actor for Upcoming ‘Napoleon’ Movie


  • Ridley Scott cast Joaquin Phoenix in the leading role for his upcoming historical drama, Napoleon
  • The director had previously shared that Phoenix's portrayal of Joker inspired him to cast the actor in the lead role
  • Despite that, Ridley Scott hated watching the DC movie because of the violence shown in it
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Napoleon director Ridley Scott, whose upcoming endeavor stars Oscar-winning actor Joaquin Phoenix in the leading role, recently disclosed how he was compelled to cast the latter in his 2023 film after viewing Todd Phillips’ Joker. However, he found it difficult to enjoy the 2019 DC origin story’s ferociously violent premise. The legendary movie helmer candidly expressed his opinions on the Phoenix starrer, and his stance aligns with one of the most well-known critiques of the film.

Ridley Scott on Todd Phillips' Joker (2019)
Ridley Scott on Todd Phillips’ Joker (2019)

Read also: Joaquin Phoenix’s Performance Convinced His Joker Co-Star He Was the Perfect Heath Ledger Successor!

Joker falls under the ‘you-either-love-it-or-hate-it’ category of films. While there was a lot of support for the project, with the lead actor’s portrayal garnering tremendous spotlight, some moviegoers found the movie’s subject matter difficult to digest or accept. Its alleged glorification of violence sparked backlash. It appears that the Blade Runner director shares familiar sentiments.


Ridley Scott Revealed What He Didn’t Like About Joker (2019)

Ridley Scott
Esteemed director Ridley Scott

Ridley Scott was present at Deadline’s Contenders London event recently. Here, he shared with the news site details about his latest endeavor, Napoleon, and what drove him to cast Oscar-winner Joaquin Phoenix in the epic historical drama centered around the true story of French general Napoleon Bonaparte. This isn’t the director-actor pair’s first collaboration, as the 48-year-old Her alum starred in Scott’s 2000 film Gladiator. 

After 23 years, what led to this reunion? Unsurprisingly, it was the filmmaker witnessing the Hollywood talent’s electrifying, spine-chilling performance in Todd Phillips’ polarizing 2019 psychological thriller. Although the Alien helmer praised Phoenix’s mind-blowing embodiment of the intricate DC character, he showed no reluctance in expressing his critique of the project—particularly its violence.

Joaquin Phoenix in and as Joker (2019)
Joaquin Phoenix in and as Joker (2019)

Read also: Martin Scorsese Admitted To Not Backing ‘Joker’ as He Was Afraid of the Controversy


Following was Ridley Scott‘s statement to Deadline:

“I was blown away by his outrageous film ‘Joker.’ I didn’t like the way it celebrated violence but Joaquin was remarkable. I thought he’d be an amazing asset to ‘Napoleon,’ [not only creatively] also in a commercial sense. There were only two actors I had in mind for the role. I won’t mention the other one.”

This wasn’t the only time the Prometheus filmmaker alluded to how the Todd Phillips-directed film prompted the former to pick Joaquin Phoenix to take on Napoleon Bonaparte’s role.

Joker Compelled Ridley Scott To Consider Joaquin Phoenix For The Napoleon Role

Ridley Scott and Joaquin Phoenix
Ridley Scott and Joaquin Phoenix

Talking to Empire Magazine about his upcoming release, Ridley Scott delved into the leading character’s psyche. He didn’t want to deflect from the bloodshed that the historical figure was responsible for. He knew of the French military leader’s “courage” and “can-do” disposition but also wished to highlight the “bad sh*t under his belt.” On casting Phoenix in the intricate, layered role, the director was moved by Joker (2019).


He told the outlet that it was after he caught up with the 2019 psychological thriller that he knew the leading star was fit for the Napoleon role. Following was his statement, as reported by Empire:

“I’m staring at Joaquin and saying, ‘This little demon is Napoleon Bonaparte.’ He looks like him.”

Joaquin Phoenix as Joker
Joker (2019)

Read also: Lady Gaga Couldn’t Make Sense of Ridley Scott Film After Being Cast as Socialite Murderer!

Although the renowned filmmaker, hailed for his box-office blockbusters, was wary about the violence in Todd Phillips‘ film, he knew instantly, after viewing the endeavor, that he had found his Napoleon Bonaparte.


Since the film’s premiere, Joker (2019) has been panned for certain narrative aspects. The film faced harsh scrutiny for, among other things, its purportedly poor portrayal of mental illness, the celebration of violence, its lack of originality (compared to films like The King of Comedy and Taxi Driver), etc.

Nevertheless, its record-breaking standing in Hollywood made it the highest-grossing R-rated film. Despite having a $55-70 million budget, it succeeded in grossing $1.074 billion globally.

On October 4, 2024, a follow-up film titled Joker: Folie à Deux is slated for release.


The first installment is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video and Max. Meanwhile, Ridley Scott’s Napoleon is scheduled for a November 22, 2023 release.


Written by Debdipta Bhattacharya

Articles Published: 659

Debdipta Bhattacharya is a content writer at FandomWire, where she has written more than 500 articles on various topics of interest. She possesses a sincere passion for popular culture, anime, film production, and the evolving world of YouTube and streaming culture which has allowed her to be a devoted and well-informed writer. Debdipta holds a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication. She has honed her skills and expertise in content writing with over two years of experience and strives to learn and grow daily.