If we learned anything from Glee, it’s that having more than one diva almost always results in conflict. And director Todd Phillips’s Joker has two major divas, Robert De Niro and Joaquin Phoenix, who operate according to two majorly different methods, according to Phillips’s memory of their time on set. His story begins before a table read for Joker, a common practice in which the cast of a movie or TV show gets together to read through an entire script before shooting begins. “Bob called me and he goes, ‘Tell [Phoenix] he’s an actor and he’s got to be there, I like to hear the whole movie, and we’re going to all get in a room and just read it,’” Phillips told Vanity Fair in a profile of Phoenix. “And I’m in between a rock and a hard place because Joaquin’s like, ‘There’s no fucking way I’m doing a read-through.’” Ultimately, he had to do the table read. Afterward, Phoenix immediately went for a smoke, sickened by the activity and desperate to walk out. But De Niro, shady as ever, insisted they talk it over and ended their conversation with a kiss on the cheek, both hands on Phoenix’s face, and a swift “It’s going to be okay, bubbeleh,” Phillips recalled. It’s the same De Niro charm that got Joe Pesci to show up for another movie. Now Phoenix knows: No one out-divas De Niro.
Robert De Niro and Joaquin Phoenix. Photo: Getty Images