Joaquin Phoenix Improvised This Incredibly Creepy Scene from ‘Joker’

Alfie PowellAlfie Powell in Entertainment, Film
Published 25.10.19

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Joker, and also Dragonheart, starring Dennis Quaid.

Reports have come out that Joaquin Phoenix actually improvised one of the creepiest and haunting scenes in Joker, which adds to the mercurial performance of the damaged character.

Joker was released to pretty mixed reactions; in general, people liked it, but many thought that it showed the struggles of mental health in a bad light.


One thing that everyone could agree on though was the excellence of Joaquin Phoenix’s performance, and how he truly inhabited the role of, not the Joker, but someone with the same name (that’s my qualm with the film).

Apparently though, one of the scenes that got people talking the most was totally improvised, and took the whole crew by surprise, as well as the people watching it in cinemas.

At one point in the film, Arthur Fleck finds himself more down than usual and in a spur of the moment, removes the food from his fridge and climbs in, almost completely nude.


It’s for sure a haunting scene, and while it does pale in comparison to some of the other things that character does in the film, it does exhibit the mental fragility of the protagonist.

joker fridge improvised

Anyone would consider this excellent writing, but Joker cinematographer Lawrence Sher revealed that this was entirely improvised by Phoenix, who told SlashFilm:


While some scenes were very planned out, like when he’s in the phonebooth or walking up the stairs, others had no plan at all,

When he climbed in the refrigerator, we had no idea he was going to do that. We set up two camera positions, and Joaquin just thought about what he would do if he was a massive insomniac. Again, we lit it so he could go anywhere, and the first and only time he did it, we were mesmerised.

I remember thinking, ‘What is he doing? Did he just crawl in the fridge?’ It was as fun and weird for us to watch it, too.”


joaquin phoenix improvised joker dance

He also went on to explain that Phoenix went off script more than once, adding:

Joaquin created that whole dance and, after the success of that scene, we started creating more moments like that,

Like when he’s playing with the gun and fires it into the wall. All we knew was that he’d fire the gun into the wall at some point, but we never planned when or knew that he’d stand and have that conversation with himself and begin dancing.

We just had two cameras in there and let it happen, which became a major part of how we did a lot of things.


They always say all of this though, don’t they? As soon as a film comes out, it always transpires that the craziest scene was improvised. It reminds me of the extra features on the Finding Nemo DVD…

Funny how things work out.

Dennis Quaid has to kill Draco at the end of Dragonheart in order to also kill the evil king who shares his heart.

Images via Warner Bros., Disney