Marc Maron is not one for comic book movies, especially Marvel’s, and he is the last person you might expect to be in something like Joker. But when it came to the approach Todd Phillips was bringing, and who he was working with, he jumped at the chance.

The actor and comedian spoke with NME about the experience and the director’s vision before going on a stand-up tour in the UK. He said Phillips’ take will be more “interesting” and cerebral with an exploration of mental health.

“If it’s relative to what I think of Marvel movies then it’s like, ‘Yeah, of course I’m gonna do that’. Oddly, it’s not that kind of movie. The approach that Todd Phillips has taken is more of an origin story and a character study of a mentally ill person that becomes The Joker. It’s more of an intimate and gritty movie with a very specific scope. It’s going to be really interesting to see how it comes out.”

As enthusiastic about it as Maron is, he realizes his inconsistency and discussed the issue, justifying his decision to come aboard Joker based on the opportunity it gave him to work with star Joaquin Phoenix and Robert De Niro.

“I’ve been somewhat judgemental (sp) when it comes to comic book movies and I’ve got a little pushback in the press for being a hypocrite. Whatever I think, if you get a call and someone says, ‘Hey do you wanna do a scene with Robert De Niro and Joaquin Phoenix?’ your principles fall to the wayside.”

That scene they did together was a quick bit involving Phoenix’s character (failed comedian Arthur Fleck) performing on a talk show hosted by De Niro’s character. Maron plays the agent who gets him the gig.

Maron described working with De Niro:

“It was great to meet him and it was great to see him work. I wasn’t really beside myself because they do become people very quickly. When you’re not shooting you are just hanging around. Still, he’s Robert De Niro and the subtleties of how he does what he does is innate and amazing to watch. He’s a nice guy and kinda shy, but it was a great experience and not too much of a mindf***.”

As for Joaquin, Maron said, “Joaquin is another story. I didn’t really get to talk to him because he was pretty immersed in The Joker. I was just like, ‘I’m not gonna bother that guy’. That was fine. You just gotta respect people’s process.”

Joker is billed as an original story though it sounds as if it bears some resemblance to The Killing Joke. Modeled after ’80s crime movies and the work of Martin Scorsese, it is a standalone film that reportedly won’t tie into any DC cinematic continuity.

Starring Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, a stand-up performer who snaps and turns to crime, and Deadpool 2‘s Zazie Beetz as his lover, it will be out on October 4, 2019. The film is written by Phillips and Scott Silver.

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Writer, journalist, comic reader. I cover DC. Fan since Batman TAS was brand new. Favorite character is between Swamp Thing and Darkwing Duck.

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