Relationship Between Joaquin Phoenix and His Favorite Actor Robert De Niro Changed Drastically Because of ‘Joker’

Robert De Niro and Joaquin Phoenix clash on the set of Joker.

Relationship Between Joaquin Phoenix and His Favorite Actor Robert De Niro Changed Drastically Because of 'Joker'


  • The clash of acting styles between Joaquin Phoenix and his childhood idol, Robert De Niro, became a central point of tension during the film's production. Phoenix's methodical and authentic approach clashed with De Niro's preference for a structured read-through before filming.
  • Despite their differences, De Niro encouraged Phoenix to persevere during a challenging read-through, allowing the production to continue. However, tensions between the actors remained palpable on set.
  • A sequel, titled "Joker: Folie à Deux," is set to hit theaters in October 2024, much to the excitement of fans.
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A daring film called Joker emerged in Hollywood, where blockbusters with huge budgets and larger-than-life superheroes dominated. With a budget of $55 million, this R-rated movie tells the origin story of the iconic DC Comics villain, breaking the mold and receiving critical acclaim and commercial success.


However, a fascinating story unfolded behind the scenes, detailing the unexpected relationship between actors Joaquin Phoenix and Robert De Niro during the making of Joker.

The Joaquin Phoenix-Led ‘Joker’ Revolution


Joker stands out in the world of superhero movies for its bold exploration of Gotham City’s dark underbelly and the mysterious origins of its iconic villain. Despite its modest budget, the film directed by Todd Phillips has made history by grossing over $1 billion worldwide, proving to be a massive success.


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Joaquin Phoenix, a skilled actor with a reputation for relentless commitment to his work, was the driving force behind this incredible journey. He had captivated audiences and critics for almost twenty years with his performances in movies like Walk the Line, Her, and The Master. Despite his renown, he had never won an Academy Award until he took on the Clown Prince of Crime role.

Todd Phillips’ film showcased Joaquin Phoenix’s remarkable portrayal of the Joker. In a world filled with superhero stories, Phoenix’s interpretation of the troubled Arthur Fleck was a captivating and raw depiction of a character known for his chaos and disorder.


Winning an Oscar for his role in Joker was a much-deserved honor and a long-awaited acknowledgment of his unmatched talent. The movie broke box office records and secured Phoenix’s position in cinema history.

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A Clash of Titans: Joaquin Phoenix and Robert De Niro

joaquin phoenix and Robert De Niro
joaquin phoenix and Robert De Niro

While the world was celebrating Joaquin Phoenix’s victory, another story occurred behind the scenes. It was the clash of two acting legends who had different approaches to their craft. Phoenix, who was known for his meticulous and authentic style, had a confrontation with his childhood hero, Robert De Niro. This altercation caused a stir on the set of Joker.


Phoenix believed that actors should fully embody their characters and experience their emotions authentically. In contrast, De Niro preferred a structured approach with a read-through before filming. This clash of acting styles threatened the delicate balance of the production.

A Vanity Fair cover story from 2019 revealed that Joaquin Phoenix had difficulty with the read-through process and felt physically ill. This unexpected challenge caused concern for the project’s success.

“I didn’t like to talk to him on set. The first day we said good morning, and beyond that I don’t know that we talked much. We just say, ‘Do the work. Relate as the characters to each other.’ It makes it simpler and we don’t [talk]. There’s no reason to.”

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Their opposite methods of acting went too far to the point, as explained by the director to Vanity Fair that the Joker actor fell sick after a read-through.

“He’s in front of Bob, and he goes, ‘I can’t, I gotta go home, because he felt sick after that read-through, he didn’t like it.”

However, Robert De Niro, whom Phoenix has admired throughout his life, encouraged him to persevere. Although this brief moment of resolution allowed production to continue, there were still underlying tensions.

The film only touched upon the complex character’s journey through madness and mayhem, leaving audiences hungry for more. With a built-in fan base and undeniable allure, the idea of a follow-up is highly anticipated.


Lucky for fans, Joker: Folie à Deux, a sequel to the movie, is on its way to theatres in October 2024.

Source: Vanity Fair

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Mabel Andrady

Written by Mabel Andrady

Articles Published: 694

Mabel, aka MJ, is a FandomWire Sr. Writer, pop-culture fanatic, and an MA in Health Demography holder. When she's not indulging in her guilty pleasure of penning everything Hollywood, Marvel & DC, she writes academic essays on COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS. With 2500+ articles published online, she brings a unique twist to entertainment writing. A jack-of-all-trades, MJ enjoys movies, writes/acts in plays, writes music, and dreams of being a successful actress. She offers a fresh perspective, making her writing a must-read for those seeking knowledge and entertainment.