In order to play the lead role in Joker, Joaquin Phoenix underwent a dramatic transformation, and as a result he looks truly, unsettlingly emaciated in the film. The 44-year-old actor lost a shocking 52 pounds ahead of shooting, and he’s just revealed the drastic methods it took to achieve such significant weight loss.
In a recent interview with Access Hollywood, Phoenix explained that he sought medical guidance in order to ensure that he was able to lose the weight safely. “It’s something I’ve done before and you work with a doctor regimented and overseen and safe,” he said.
The old adage might dictate that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but the rumor mill soon had fans believing that Phoenix was, in fact, following extreme medical advice and eating just an apple a day in order to keep losing the weight — but he says that’s not true.
“It wasn’t an apple a day,” he said. “No, you’ve also got lettuce and steamed green beans.”
Such a vast reduction in his daily calorie intake meant that Phoenix was able to drop 52 pounds, all the while resisting temptation in the form of Joker director Todd Phillips. “Todd did have these f**king pretzels that I love,” he said. “And he’d just have bags of them in his office! And that was difficult.”
Pushing yourself to extremes in order to play the Joker has become something of a fashion in Hollywood in the last decade. Jared Leto got extremely lean and played a series of bizarre, sinister pranks on his castmates in order to get into character for Suicide Squad, and Heath Ledger’s performance in The Dark Knight earned him a posthumous Oscar (and, arguably, helped popularize the idea that playing the Joker is akin to playing Hamlet).
Needless to say, just like the increasingly nefarious behavior of the title character in Joker, this kind of diet isn’t something that should be emulated in real life.