The veteran actor is in negotiations to join Joaquin Phoenix in Warner Bros.’ upcoming Joker stand-alone movie.
These talks have been going on for weeks, but a deal is near and they have finally worked out the financials. As opposed to the iconic turn Jack Nicholson took in the Joker role in Tim Burton’s Batman, De Niro will be bringing his iconic status to a different role. Sources said he’ll play a talk show host, a formative figure in the development of the character who eventually becomes The Joker. But De Niro’s character is not a villain, I’m told.
Todd Phillips is directing and co-wrote the backstory tale of Batman’s archnemesis, which is described as a gritty character study but also a broader cautionary tale of a man disregarded by society who becomes the ultimate supervillain.
Phoenix is portraying the DC Comics villain in a movie that is more moderately budgeted and darker than the studio’s other DC-based movies, known as the DC Cinematic Universe.
If a deal is made, De Niro would play a talk show host who is somehow instrumental in the Joker’s origin.
But the Joker stand-alone is being developed as no ordinary comic book movie. The budget is in the $55 million range, significantly lower than most comic book tentpoles that feature characters from Marvel or DC. And the stand-alone is said to be a character exploration as well as a drama, not a fight-fest.
The project is due to begin lensing September in New York.