Ridley Scott cast Joaquin Phoenix in Napoleon after seeing Joker

Joaquin Phoenix in Joker
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Ridley Scott cast Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon Bonaparte after seeing him play the title role in 2019’s Joker.

The Gladiator director has been chatting to Empire magazine about Napoleon ahead of its release later this year. He and Joaquin Phoenix previously worked together on Gladiator, but it was watching the actor in 2019’s Joker that convinced Scott to cast him as Napoleon Bonaparte.

“I’m staring at Joaquin and saying, ‘This little demon is Napoleon Bonaparte.’ He looks like him,” Scott said. The director also compares Napoleon to “Alexander The Great. Adolf Hitler. Stalin.” It makes sense then that Phoenix, who played the villain Commodus in Gladiator and Arthur Fleck in Joker, would play someone that Ridley Scott sees as being on a level with some of the world’s most villainous historical figures.

But Scott’s Napoleon is set also to be very complex, as he continued “Listen, he’s got a lot of bad shit under his belt. At the same time, he was remarkable with his courage, and in his can-do, and in his dominance. He was extraordinary.”

The filmmaker has also been sharing some very honest anecdotes from behind the scenes of the production, including that Phoenix didn’t know how to go about playing the character two weeks before shooting was due to begin.

Napoleon is set to be released in cinemas on 22nd November, before streaming on Apple TV+ at a later date.

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