'Joker' Director Todd Phillips Reveals How He Wrote This Iconic Scene

Todd Phillips and Scott Silver created a cultural phenomenon with their Joker script. Listen to Phillips break down the movie's most iconic scene. 

Joker has been covered a ton, but I still can't get over how open (maybe too open?) Todd Phillips has been about sharing behind-the-scenes tips and tricks. We've love that on this site because it's not often you get to see how the sausage is made on any project that size. 

Recently, Phillips sat down with The New York Times to break down one of the most famous scenes in his new Joker movie, which features Joaquin Phoenix giving a fearless (and disturbing, obviously) turn as aspiring comedian-turned-Clown-Prince-of-Crime Arthur. 

Check out the scene below and we will pick up with the tweet with commentary after. 

Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7BKa9Fx5Ec

Here's the tweet from Screenplay'd which takes Phillips' words and puts them over the screenplay. 

Video is no longer available: twitter.com/Screenplayed/status/1181962526558433280

Phillips loves this scene because it was supposed to be a "What-have-I-done?" scene. That was how it was scripted, but then -- in the moment, on set -- it didn't feel right for both him and star Joaquin Phoenix. To help that, Phillips had found and played a piece of music from their composer and the Phoenix danced. 

“Arthur is one of those people that has music in him,” Phillips explains. They went back to the music and choreographed a dance that wound up cementing the psychosis for the audience and being far less melodramatic. In less than a minute, Phillips gives context to the whole scene and shows us how they made a crucial decision with 200 people waiting for them that wound up making the movie feel more alive. 

The lesson here is always to be malleable on set and to listen to the actors. 

Filmmaking by dictatorship works for some but the best art comes from collaboration and an open mind. 

What's next? Watch Todd Phillips break down the opening scene of the Joker

The Joker is the #1 movie at the box office and a cultural sensation. How did Todd Phillips nail the opening scene? 

Click to learn!      

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Your Comment


#1 movie at the box office, eat your heart out Phil.

October 11, 2019 at 7:31AM, Edited October 11, 7:31AM


No Film School: Todd Phillips reveals how he wrote this iconic scene for this movie that you should not fucking see, but which he totally nailed, even though it's an abomination and a cultural event which is awful, but if you watch it you're basically supporting white violence, while being awesome even though it's just terrible.

October 11, 2019 at 5:39PM, Edited October 11, 5:39PM


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October 12, 2019 at 11:16PM, Edited October 12, 11:16PM


If you thought “Joker” was good then you’ll love “Angel has Fallen.” Here’s why:

AHF has a narrative drive.
The protagonist in AHF is smart.
AHF has an antagonist.
AHF character arc is consistent and makes sense.
When you watch AHF, you don’t walk out of the theater wishing it was directed by Christopher Nolan.
When you watch AHF, you don’t keep asking yourself, how much longer is this movie.
The protagonist in AHF doesn’t have a super annoying laugh.

October 13, 2019 at 3:41AM, Edited October 13, 3:40AM


You forgot to say AHF is shit compared to the Joker and intended for immature adults. Otherwise AHF is great!

October 13, 2019 at 8:43AM

Jonathon Sendall

Iconic scene? The movie has been out for what? 3 weeks? Can we tone down the hyperbole, please??

October 13, 2019 at 5:29PM, Edited October 13, 5:29PM


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July 9, 2020 at 6:26AM