Quentin Tarantino dissects Joker's talk show scene: 'They got the audience to think like like a lunatic'
Director Quentin Tarantino has offered his take on the talk show scene in Joker, in which the Batman villain shoots Robert De Niro's Murray Franklin on live television. Directed by Todd Phillips, Joker was released to massive box office success but divisive critical reaction in 2019. It won actor Joaquin Phoenix an Oscar.
In a conversation with director Edgar Wright on a special episode of the Empire Podcast, Tarantino said that the talk show scene was subversive 'on a massive level' and that the 'entire atmosphere in the theatre' changed during that scene.
He said, "The subversion on a massive level, the thing that’s profound is this: It’s not just suspenseful, it’s not just riveting and exciting, the director subverts the audience because the Joker is a f**king nut. Robert De Niro’s talk show character is not a movie villain. He seems like an a**hole, but he’s not more of an a**hole than David Letterman. He’s just an a**hole comedian, talk show guy.”
Tarantino added, "He’s not a movie villain. He doesn’t deserve to die. Yet, while the audience is watching the Joker, they want him to kill Robert De Niro; they want him to take that gun, and stick it in his eye and blow his f**king head off. And if the Joker didn’t kill him? You would be pissed off. That is subversion on a massive level! They got the audience to think like a f**king lunatic and to want [Arthur to kill Murray]. And they will lie about it! They will say, ‘no, I didn’t [want it to happen]!,’ and they are f**king liars. They did.”
The Oscar-winning filmmaker was, however, otherwise quite mixed about the film. “Is this where we live now?" he asked. "Take great movies from the ‘70s and redo them as pop-cultural artifacts?”
Joker, designed as a homage to Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver and King of Comedy, became the first R-rated film to make $1 billion at the box office.
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