'Joker' wins Golden Lion

The film, which is slated for an October theatrical release, does not draw on the previous Batman films, and works as an origin story for the infamous supervillain.

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September 10, 2019 09:16
2 minute read.
'Joker' wins Golden Lion

The 76th Venice Film Festival - Screening of the film "Joker" in competition - Red Carpet Arrivals- Venice, Italy, August 31, 2019 - A fan dressed as the Joker poses for a photo.. (photo credit: YARA NARDI / REUTERS)

Director Todd Phillips picked up the Golden Lion Prize from the 76th Venice Film Festival for his phenomenal comic book-inspired film, Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix in the titular role – the first time a comic book-inspired film has ever taken home this award.

The film, which is slated for an October theatrical release, does not draw on the previous Batman films, and works as an origin story for the infamous supervillain, the Joker, as the first installment of the DC Black film series of standalones. 

The Joker – who, like Batman himself, was the creation of Jewish comic book writers Bob Kane and Bill Finger – has been portrayed by a wide variety of actors and voice-actors over the years in a plethora of different films, TV series and other media, including the likes of Jack Nicholson (1989's Batman), Caesar Romeo (1960's Batman television show), Mark Hamill (The '90's television show Batman: The Animated Series) and the late Heath Ledger (2008's The Dark Knight) .

The role is known to be very difficult to play, and few, if any, of the actors who have taken on the role have come out wholly unscathed.

The most infamous example of this rumored "cursed role" is undoubtedly Ledger, who immersed himself in the role so much that – though he put on a stellar performance that earned him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in The Dark Knight – many believe contributed heavily to his death at the young age of 28.

Phoenix, famous for his intense style method acting, also put a lot into his performance, losing over 52 pounds [23 kg.] in preparation for the role.

As he explained in an interview with ET Canada: “The first thing was the weight loss, that’s really what I started with. As it turns out, that impacts your psychology, and you really start to go mad when you lose that much weight in that amount of time. There’s also a book about political assassins that I thought was interesting, and breaks down the different types of personalities that do those sorts of things [I do in the film].”

Others, however, say that this curse is simply nonsense. Many of these detractors point out that the role of the Joker essentially revitalized Mark Hamill's career – a strange side effect for a "cursed role" to have. Hamill, who reached such global success in the role of Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars franchise, had a hard time proving to directors the Force is with him even with other roles.    
Despite the film's critical success and being awarded Best Film, Phoenix did not take home the prize for Best Actor, which instead went to Luca Marinelli's performance in the historical romance film Martin Eden.


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