Joker Star Joaquin Phoenix Reveals His Own Theory About the Film’s Ending


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One of the biggest movies of the year, Joker has certainly been a hot topic of conversation. Even before the Todd Phillips-directed film hit theaters there was much discussion about the film and whether or not it promoted violence. Since the film’s debut, however, much of that conversation has quieted down and been replaced with questions about the film’s ending — specifically what was real and what wasn’t. Now, the film’s star Joaquin Phoenix is weighing in with his own theory about the film’s ending.

Speaking with the Los Angeles Times, Phoenix explained that the reactions to and questions about Joker is something that is interesting to him, noting that because there are so many ways to look at the character and the movie that finding one meaning isn’t possible.

“It’s been super interesting how people react to the movie and what they see — and to me, all of those answers are valid,” Phoenix said. “Normally you have to answer those questions. But this really is participatory and interactive. It’s up to the audience. That’s so rare, especially with a big studio movie, and I don’t want to ruin that by saying, ‘No, this is what it is.’ To me, there are so many different ways to view this character and his experience that I don’t think you can come up with a particular meaning.”

In Joker, the film ends with Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck ending up locked up in a mental institution after executing late night television host Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro) on live television, an act that incites violence all through Gotham. But fans are left with the question of whether Arthur really did that or if he had been in the institution the entire time with the whole movie simply being a twisted tale, he tells his psychiatrist. And for Phoenix, despite not wanting to ruin things by assigning specific meaning, he said that he believes that Fleck really is the Joker — and everything viewers saw was real.

“But I don’t know,” Phoenix said. “It’s just my opinion.”

While Phoenix may be of the opinion that it was all real, Phillips earlier told he wanted to leave audiences questioning reality when watching Joker because that uncertainty is “part of the fun.”

“When Scott Silver and I sat down to write it, we knew enough about the comics,” he said. “I read comics when I was a kid, we knew [Joker] didn’t have an origin story. I don’t want to say whether it’s real or not because I think [it’s] part of the fun. I’ve shown it to many, many different people and they all have a different reaction. Some of them say, ‘Oh I get it, I mean the last line in the movie, you wouldn’t get it, to a joke he was telling. Well is the joke the movie? Is the joke the thing?’ The idea is you don’t like to answer those questions, because it’s nice to see the different things people take away from it.”


Joker is in theaters now.

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