Todd Phillips On ‘Joker’s 70’s Influence

Article by Eric Lee

Director Todd Phillips has spoken about the different films behind Joker’s 70’s influence.

At the Venice Film Festival, Phillips openly discussed the movies that inspired the tone of Joker; classics like Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Serpico gave life to Joker‘s direction.

There’s a ton of specific inspirations we had for this movie. Taxi Driver, obviously, is one of my favorite movies, but it’s not directly that. I think it’s more a time period of movies. Movies from these great character studies that they don’t do as much nowadays as they did in the late ’70s, whether it was Cuckoo’s Nest, or Taxi Driver, or Serpico, or Raging Bull, of course, King of Comedy. Marty [Scorsese] was doing a ton back then. And even things like The Man Who Laughs [from 1928]. I mean, we were watching a lot of musicals, [co-writer] Scott [Silver] and I, when we were writing [Joker].

Phillips on ‘Joker’ and ‘Hangover’

Phillips also discussed his highly-successful Hangover trilogy. The movies are more madcap-comedies than Joker and are tonally very different from one another. In all fairness, the last Hangover film was a pretty dark comedy. Phillips addresses both the differences and similarities between the films.

It’s different tonally than a lot of films I’ve done before, but ultimately to me, it’s kind of all storytelling, it’s all a beginning, middle and an end. But I was definitely influenced by the movies that I grew up on, these great character studies of the ‘70s. And kept thinking, ‘Well, why can’t you do a genre film in the comic book world like that, and really do a deep dive on a character like Joker?’ And if you get a great actor and great people behind it, we could really do something special.

How do you feel about Joker‘s 70’s Influence? Do you think it’s a good fit? Let us know.

Joker hits theaters October 4, 2019.


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Eric Lee

Eric Lee hails from San Francisco, California and has been one of the biggest fans of Batman since he was 2 years old when his dad showed him Tim Burton's 'Batman' on a fuzzy VHS. Currently, Eric is an avid comic book reader and writer and illustrator working on his own graphic novel. You can see his doodles at meeleeart.com.