UPDATE: Shortly after this article was published, Alec Baldwin announced he is no longer participating in Todd Phillips’ Joker film. Read more here.
Alec Baldwin is joining Montauker Robert De Niro in the cast of director Todd Phillips’ Joker film starring Joaquin Phoenix as the Clown Prince of Crime. Baldwin will play Bruce Wayne’s father Thomas Wayne, whose death eventually leads his son to don the cape and cowl as Batman.
The movie will exist outside the continuity of the greater DC film universe, which already features Jared Leto as the Joker—as seen in 2016’s Suicide Squad—who will appear in a separate standalone film with Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn.
With this in mind, the lower budget production is taking liberties with characters, including Baldwin’s Thomas Wayne, depicted in the script as a “cheesy and tanned businessman who is more in the mold of a 1980s Donald Trump,” sources told The Hollywood Reporter (THR).
That, of course, is a character we know Baldwin can play, though fans shouldn’t expect some obvious version of the actor’s Emmy award-winning Trump impersonation from Saturday Night Live. Just as Phoenix will surely bring a unique and nuanced version of the Joker, Baldwin should take his part somewhere more interesting.
Phoenix is notoriously serious about his roles, so it’s a safe bet he’ll bring something new and memorable to the complex Joker character. But he has a lot to live up to. Actors Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger both delivered indelible performances as the iconic evil clown in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman and Christopher Nolan’s 2008 The Dark Knight, respectively. Leto also created an excellent version in David Ayer’s not-so-excellent Suicide Squad, which could be better highlighted in his still-untitled Joker/Harley Quinn film.
Joker is Baldwin’s second comic book movie, though some may not remember his turn as Lamont Cranston, the titular character in 1994’s The Shadow, based on the 1930s radio serial, and later pulp novels and comic books. As the mysterious crime fighter in The Shadow, Baldwin used his good looks, charm and that famous husky voice to great effect, but this new supporting role will require something different. Perhaps, we hope, he’ll have a chance to add his comedic chops, as demonstrated with Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock, and in SNL appearances going back to classic bits, like “Canteen Boy” and “Schweddy Balls.”
Along with Baldwin as Thomas Wayne and Phoenix’s Joker, THR says De Niro will play “a talk show host who is somehow instrumental in the Joker’s origin.” Additionally, Deadpool 2 star Zazie Beetz (Domino) is playing Sophie Dumond, who THR describes as “a single mother who catches the interest of the man who will become the Clown Prince of Crime.”
Marc Maron, of the Netflix hit GLOW, is also confirmed, though no details about his character have been released.
In fact, Phillips and the cast have revealed very few details about Joker, other than it’s a lower budget origin story based more on character than action. And despite Thomas Wayne’s inclusion in the script, there’s no guarantee Batman, or Bruce Wayne, will even be a part of it.
Production is set to begin in New York City next month, and the film will hit theaters in October 2019.