Joaquin Phoenix Shocked ‘Joker’ Crew by Improvising Refrigerator Scene on First Take

IndieWire | 10/23/2019 | Staff
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One of the more baffling moments in “Joker” finds Joaquin Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck coping with his violent descent into the eponymous villain by clearing out the contents of his refrigerator so that he can fit inside it. Arthur fits himself into the fridge and shuts the door behind him, as director Todd Phillips holds the shot for a couple extra seconds to show Arthur will remain inside the tight space for awhile. Phoenix’s refrigerator move was an improvisation that no one on the crew knew until the moment happened during filming, “Joker” cinematographer Lawrence Sher reveals in a new interview with /Film.

“While some scenes were very planned out, like when he’s in the phonebooth or walking up the stairs, others had no plan at all,” Sher said. “When he climbed in the refrigerator, we had no idea he was going to do that. We set up two camera positions, and Joaquin just thought about what he would do if he was a massive insomniac. Again, we lit it so he could go anywhere, and the first and only time he did it, we were mesmerized. I remember thinking, ‘What is he doing? Did he just crawl in the fridge?’ It was as fun and weird for us to watch it, too.”

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The refrigerator moment was hardly the only time Phoenix used improve to make a “Joker” scene work. Phillips has already revealed that the infamous bathroom scene, in which Arthur begins to dance while coping with his first acts of murder,...
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