Joaquin Phoenix ate just lettuce and beans to drop 50 lbs in quick time to play the Joker: 'It wasn’t an apple a day'
Joaquin Phoenix was on a diet of apples, lettuce, and steamed green beans under the supervision of a doctor.
Joaquin Phoenix wasn't kidding around when he signed up to play the iconic villain 'Joker' in Warner Brothers' film, named after the titular character. Tasked with losing weight from his already lean frame, Phoenix ate a controlled diet of fruits and vegetables, under the supervision of a doctor. In an interview with Access Online, on being asked if he was on a diet of one apple a day, he joked: "It wasn't an apple a day. No, you’ve also got lettuce and steamed green beans.” Speaking about the weight loss process, he said: “It’s something I’ve done before and you work with a doctor regimented and overseen and safe.” However, the film's director, Todd Phillips, did not make it easy for the perpetually hungry star. “Todd did have these f**king pretzels that I love. And he’d just have bags of them in his office! And that was difficult,” said the star about temptations that threatened to derail his weight loss journey.
Phoenix, 44, a Golden Globe winner and three-time Academy Award nominee, lost 52 pounds for the role to play Arthur Fleck who later becomes the Joker. Fleck is a meek and scrawny, mentally-ill loner who lives with his mother in a decrepit Gotham City apartment. The Academy Awards have usually favored actors who have made dramatic physical transformations to play their parts from Charlize Theron in 'Monster' to the more recent win for Eddie Redmayne for 'The Theory of Everything.'
Phoenix revealed to ET Canada that the diet was key to getting into the character and trying to differentiate his Joker from iterations by actors like Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, and Jared Leto. "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,” Phoenix said. He also mentioned reading a book on political assassins that analyzed different types of anti-social and criminal personalities. The effort seems to have paid off. After the movie had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, his name was already being tossed around as a potential 'Best Actor' nominee at the Oscars.