Joaquin Phoenix Walked Out Of An Interview After Critic Asked Him Whether ‘Joker’ Would Inspire Mass Shooters

Joaquin Phoenix is facing some difficult questions about the implications of his new film, "Joker," where he plays the eponymous comic-book villain.

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Joaquin Phoenix Walked Out Of An Interview After Critic Asked Him Whether 'Joker' Would Inspire Mass Shooters

In an interview on Sunday, Phoenix was asked whether he was worried that the film inspires the kind of person it’s about. Collin described as “an unstable, self-pitying loner with a mass-shooter mindset.”

“‘Why?’ he eventually mutters, his lip curling up at one side,” Collin wrote of Phoenix.

“‘Why would you…? No… no.’ Then he stands up, shuffles towards me, clasps my hands between his, and walks out of the door.”

Collin said Phoenix rejoined the interview after “an hour’s peace-brokering with a Warner Bros PR.” He panicked because he hadn’t been asked that question before. It remained unanswered.

joker warner bros movie

But IGN’s Jim Vejvoda asked Phoenix and the director Todd Phillips about the criticism of the movie at the film’s press junket in Los Angeles last week.

“I really think there have been a lot of think pieces written by people who proudly state they haven’t even seen the movie and they don’t need to,” Phillips said. “I would just argue that you might want to watch the movie, you might want to watch it with an open mind.”

Phoenix said: “Well, I think that, for most of us, you’re able to tell the difference between right and wrong. And those that aren’t are capable of interpreting anything in the way that they may want to.”

The criticism they’re referring to is reflected in articles with headlines like “Joaquin Phoenix Loses His S— in a Bold but Incel-Friendly Origin Story” in IndieWire, “Joker Is a Dangerous Film — & It’s Bringing Out the Worst in the Internet” in Refinery29, and “Joaquin Phoenix Towers in a Deeply Troubling Origin Story” in Vanity Fair.

Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara are seen arriving at the 76th Venice Film Festival on August 31, 2019 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Jacopo Raule/GC Images,)

Family members of the victims of the 2012 mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, wrote a letter to Warner Bros. expressing their fears and asking it to donate to gun-victim charities, The Hollywood Reporter said on Tuesday.

“We are calling on you to be a part of the growing chorus of corporate leaders who understand that they have a social responsibility to keep us all safe,” a copy of the letter obtained by the publication said.

Nevertheless, “Joker” has been lauded almost as vehemently as it has been scolded — Phoenix has already been tipped for a best-actor Oscar, and Business Insider’s Jason Guerrasio was among the critics who adored it.

“The movie is very much a commentary on how society doesn’t do enough to nurture people who experience mental illness,” Guerrasio wrote.

He added: “The Clown Prince of Crime has always been a favorite character to play for actors, but here Phoenix takes it to its darkest place.”

“Joker” is released in theaters October 4.