Joaquin Phoenix has portrayed numerous intricate and captivating characters on the big screen, which has earned him the highest recognition from movie enthusiasts. You may find it fascinating that one of his complex performances inspired a cruel yet unforgettable antagonist that thousands of Game of Thrones fans vehemently disliked during the series’ run.
Actor Jack Gleeson, the talent behind the sadistic and vicious Joffrey Baratheon, revealed that one of the most influential impacts to his characterization of King Joffrey stemmed from Phoenix’s portrayal of Emperor Commodus in the 2000 film Gladiator. The two villains have stunned audiences with their layered and compelling arcs.
Jack Gleeson Based Joffrey Baratheon On Joaquin Phoenix’s Commodus
But it wasn’t only the talent’s impeccable embodiment that helped shape the insufferable King Joffrey. As an actor, finding inspiration to base a character around is crucial. For Gleeson, Joaquin Phoenix was precisely that. In a 2014 interview with Entertainment Weekly, the In the Land of Saints and Sinners alum was asked to reveal which Hollywood villains impacted him.
Following was the star’s response:
“Joaquin Phoenix’s Commodus in Gladiator; certainly for my characterization of Joffrey, that had a big impact, the smirk.”
In a separate interview with GQ, Jack Gleeson affirmed the following:
“A big influence was Joaquin Phoenix in Gladiator. Sometimes, when I’m sitting on my throne, I think of Phoenix sitting on his, with that smirk on his face.”
Despite having several distinct traits and qualities, the two characters have catapulted to the top of fictional history as the most unforgettable villains.
George R. R. Martin Was Amused By Jack Gleeson’s Wicked Performance
The boy-king’s ruthless behavior highlights his lack of empathy, making him a captivating antagonist portrayed by Gleeson. King Joffrey, unlike the many grey characters of GOT, remained irredeemable. This resulted in critical praise but a collective resentment towards the role from die-hard fans. The creator of the heinous villain, author George R. R. Martin, was well aware of this phenomenon. And it’s safe to assume he found it amusing.
According to IMDb, Jack Gleeson, after the airing of the show, received a letter from the acclaimed novelist that detailed the following:
“Congratulations on your marvelous performance. Everyone hates you!”
When even the audience finds themselves forced to despise you for your role, you know you did a fantastic job portraying an unhinged, erratic, and unredeemable character. Joaquin Phoenix and Jack Gleeson are both exceptional actors who were not hesitant to take on the difficult task of portraying nuanced, villainous roles.
Gladiator (2000) is available for streaming on Netflix, while Game of Thrones (2011-2019) can be viewed on Max.