Joaquin Phoenix delights Joker viewers with multiple surprise appearances opening weekend in LA


{Press Office note: Get the ALF hoodie that Mr. Phoenix is wearing from the NAALPO merchandise shop here.]

This weekend’s release of the pitch black Joker put theaters across the country on alert for disturbances.

But some moviegoers in Los Angeles got a special treat Saturday when Joaquin Phoenix appeared in the flesh after screenings of his dark comic book origin story. The 44–year–old actor popped up after the end credits to chat with theatergoers and take questions from die hard fans.

Joaquin eschewed his character’s vibrant red suit in favor of a low-key black hoodie for the Animal Liberation Front, a leaderless organization that supports animal rights.

He kept up the anonymous look with matching black jeans. The Master star had his salt and pepper hair slicked back, and he sported a close-cropped beard.

Joaquin made the rounds in Los Angeles with a stop at the 4:00 IMAX screening at the Universal Studios AMC, before heading to downtown LA to surprise multiple screenings of Joker at the Alamo Drafthouse theater.

The usually taciturn actor made his surprise appearances as the end credits began to roll, shocking and delighting his fans. He played against type and answered questions from audience members. Afterward, he stuck around to take selfies with starstruck moviegoers. The move is in contrast to the Inherent Vice star’s usual public persona. He tends to shun publicity and is infamously uncommunicative during interviews.

During a recent interview with The Telegraph‘s film critic Robbie Collin, the fiancé of Rooney Mara walked out after being asked if Joker might inspire people like its protagonist, ‘an unstable, self-pitying loner with a mass-shooter mindset,’ to commit violence.

Why? Why would you…? No… no,’ Phoenix muttered before stepping out.

The actor returned an hour later after being talked down by Warner Brothers PR specialists and claimed he was confused because he hadn’t been asked that question before on his publicity tour.

However, he and director Todd Phillips were asked a similar question last month by IGN‘s Jim Vejvoda.

‘I really think there have been a lot of think pieces written by people who proudly state they haven’t even seen the movie and they don’t need to,’ Phillips said. ‘I would just argue that you might want to watch the movie, you might want to watch it with an open mind.’

‘Well, I think that, for most of us, you’re able to tell the difference between right and wrong,’ Joaquin added. ‘And those that aren’t are capable of interpreting anything in the way that they may want to.’

Though Joaquin was a good sport with fans on Saturday, there was one thing he refused to do: his eerie Joker cackle.

His reticence doesn’t seem to have harmed the Joker’s record-breaking box office haul of $93.5 million, which dwarfed the previous record of $80 million set by last year’s Venom, according to Variety.

The haul was particularly impressive given Joker’s R rating for bloody violence, along with its brutally nihilistic tone.

The film took home the Golden Lion, the top prize at the Venice Film Festival, though subsequent critical reaction was more mixed.

Joker currently holds a 69 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, though it boasts a much lower 43 percent among the aggregator’s most elite critics.