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While director Todd Phillips’ Joker was a major box office success, it found itself at the center of controversy after its first screening at the Venice International Film Festival, with some fearing the gun violence and the worship of a villainous character could spark dangerous actions from moviegoers. But as producer Emma Tillinger Koskoff told The Hollywood Reporter‘s Producer Roundtable, she didn’t see the controversy coming while creating the film.
“There was a little push back at times prior to getting it officially greenlit. You know, some concerns about some of the gun violence understandably, but once we got locked and loaded and the budget up and running, everything was great,” she said. “The trouble didn’t start brewing until we screened it really for the first time, and I just wanted to be very, very aware and careful given the subject matter. It’s been interesting. I’m just glad that we opened and it’s all quiet on the Western Front.”
Koskoff, who also produced another Oscar contender, Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, explained to the roundtable what drew her to the script for Joker, saying, “The themes in that film are important at this time in the world.”
She continued: “I know it’s very controversial, I’m not trying to get into that, but I was very moved by that script and have a lot of empathy for the themes going on in that film. I think that it’s important to really look at those individuals who are suffering from mental illness and really try to find some love and empathy for these people. For me, the themes in that movie were empathy and feeling sad and empathetic for that character.”
Koskoff has one career Oscar nomination for best picture for producing The Wolf of Wall Street.
The full Producer Roundtable is set to air Jan. 26 on SundanceTV. Koskoff appears on the roundtable panel along with Charlize Theron (Bombshell), Dan Lin (The Two Popes), Peter Chernin (Ford v Ferrari), David Heyman (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Marriage Story) and Debra Martin Chase (Harriet).
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