'Joker' Asked to "Speak for Itself" at Premiere with No Interviews

Joaquin Phoenix - Joker LA Premiere Chinese Theater - Publicity - H - 2019
Rich Fury
Filmmaker Todd Phillips acknowledged the increased media attention during opening remarks, while the end of the night featured a heightened security presence in the Hollywood & Highland parking structure.

Joker arrived in Los Angeles Saturday, during a premiere that saw stars such as Joaquin Phoenix and Zazie Beetz walk the carpet, pose for photographs and wave to screaming fans. One thing the team behind the Warner Bros. film didn't do at the TCL Chinese Theater? Sell Joker to the press after the studio decided Friday to nix interviews on the red carpet.

Joker filmmaker Todd Phillips introduced the project by wryly acknowledging the intense media coverage Joker has received.

"Enjoy the movie. Tell a friend, I feel like we have not gotten enough press and the word hasn’t gotten out about this film," Phillips said to laughs, before going on to praise Phoenix's work as the DC villain. "He gave it his all, and I just want to thank him one more time."

Phillips closed by echoing a sentiment Warner Bros. shared Friday when canceling interviews at the premiere: "I think it’s time to let the film speak for itself, so please enjoy."

Joker, which opens nationwide Oct. 4, has already received critical praise and Oscars speculation after premieres at the Venice and Toronto film festivals. It has also come under scrutiny after five families of the victims of the 2012 Aurora, Colo., shooting released an open letter to Warner Bros. Tuesday. In the letter, the families asked the studio to make a donation to victims' groups and to use its clout to push for stronger gun control laws. Phoenix and Phillips have both said that promoting violence was not their intention in making the film. Warner Bros. has said "neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind." 

The mood was upbeat at the Joker screening, which concluded in applause, particularly when Phoenix's name appeared on the credits. The actor and his fiancee Rooney Mara were the first to make their way to the afterparty in a tented area next to the El Capitan Theatre. The Joker actor, smoking a cigarette as he strolled, was greeted with unheeded cries from fans holding posters and asking for autographs from the sidelines. Inside, Phoenix cheered on his director, who stood on stairs built to re-create a key moment from the film in which Phoenix's Arthur Fleck dances in full Joker makeup.

Speaking of Joker makeup, Atlanta star Lakeith Stanfield arrived at the premiere with his face painted like the DC villain and sporting a green hat. Other noteworthy attendees included Aquaman star Jason Momoa and wife Lisa Bonet, It filmmaker Andy Muschietti and Emile Hirsch.

Saturday's screening did not feel like it was under heavier security than a normal Hollywood premiere, though party goers who parked in the Hollywood & Highland parking structure were greeted with an increased security presence on their way to their cars. Unlike most Hollywood premieres, there was security on every floor of the parking structure, as well as a police presence near the exits.

The Los Angeles Police Department has said it will increase visibility around theaters next weekend, but told The Hollywood Reporter there were no "credible threats" surrounding Joker's release. Meanwhile, Landmark Theatres have banned costumes at screenings of Joker.

—Borys Kit and Pamela McClintock contributed to this story.

Sept. 30, 8:09 a.m. A previous version incorrectly stated that Miles Teller attended the premiere. THR regrets the error.