Fans who paid attention in the latest trailer for Joaquin Phoenix’s “Joker” movie may have noticed one of the supporting characters in the film. Robert De Niro appears as a television show host, but it turns out this character may be a callback to an earlier film he did with Martin Scorcese.
You can De Niro in the trailer at around 1:54 for a few quick moments as this character.
The name of the character is Murray Franklin, and many are noting that since the film takes place in 1981 that there could be a link between “Joker” and Scorcese’s 1982 film “The King of Comedy”, where he played a mentally deranged comedian named Rupert Pupkin.
De Niro confirmed this connection with Indiewire, saying, “There’s a connection, obviously, with the whole thing, but it’s not as a direct connection as the character I’m playing being Rupert many years later as a host.”
While the ending of “The King of Comedy” has Pupkin landing his dream job before being carted off to jail, this is what separates that role from Franklin in “Joker”. The character is not a direct continuation, but very much in the spirit of Pupkin – what could have happened if he really made it.
De Niro added that it could have actually been Pupkin as the role instead of Franklin, “If they would’ve proposed that to me, I would’ve said, ‘That’s interesting, maybe we’ll try to do that,’” De Niro said. He also said that by making a film like this, “it is connected in a way, as you’ll see.”
Some parallels have already been made with “Joker” in relation to another Scorcese film, “Taxi Driver”. It’s clear that this new iteration of the Clown Prince of Crime has been influenced by the look of movies from that era, and that Phoenix’s Joker has elements derived from a character like Travis Bickle, so I look forward to seeing how these pieces meld in a very ambitious DC movie.
“Joker” hits theaters on October 4.