Joaquin Phoenix has revealed that he lost 52lbs for his role in Joker. Slimming down after playing brutish, heavy set enforcer in Lynne Ramsay’s searing You Were Never Really Here, Phoenix explained how he prepared physically for the joker.
The transformation actors go through to become the character is now often as much physical as it is mental. The tradition for actors gaining or losing weight for a role is certainly nothing new but big body transformations are now Hollywood Folklore. Robert De Niro, Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Hanks, Chris Pratt: the list of body transformers is long. Phoenix’s own transformation, in a film already being called a classic, looks set to join that list.
Phoenix told Access Hollywood that he consulted a doctor before undergoing such extreme weight loss. And we’re not surprised, given the actor’s details about the diet he followed. Although it was rumoured he’d gotten by on nothing more than an apple a day, the actor was quick to dispel that myth.
“It wasn’t an apple a day. No, you’ve also got lettuce and steamed green beans.” Said Phoenix. Much more appetizing.
Whether he’s 100% serious or not, surviving on a diet like that could easily become dangerous.
Christian Bale, the gold standard of body transformers, has gained and lost weight for roles with frightening dedication. Surviving on an apple and a tin of tuna a day, Bale dropped 63lbs to play the emaciated Trevor Reznik in The Machinist, before putting it all back on for Batman Begins, the following year.
Phoenix went on to explain that he felt he could do it safely. “It’s something I’ve done before and you work with a doctor so it’s regimented and overseen and safe.”
The end result is a startling transformation, the physical demands of which almost certainly added to Phoenix’s brilliant, deranged Joker.