Joaquin Phoenix Leaves Interview After Being Asked If 'Joker' Will 'Inspire' Violence: Report

"Why? Why would you…? No, no," Joaquin Phoenix reportedly said before leaving the room

Joaquin Phoenix stepped away from an interview about his upcoming film Joker after he was asked about the controversial movie potentially inspiring violence.

The latest delve into the mind behind one of Batman’s biggest adversaries has been gaining rave reviews and high praise, including a surprising Golden Lion win at the Venice Film Festival last month.

But the movie has also earned some criticism for the violence it portrays, and the sympathy shown to its murderous main character.

In an interview with U.K.’s The Telegraph, journalist Robbie Collin asked Phoenix if he was worried the movie might “perversely end up inspiring exactly the kind of people it’s about, with potentially tragic results.”

“Why? Why would you…? No, no,” Phoenix said before leaving the room, according to Collin.

The Telegraph reports Phoenix left the interview for an hour as he talked to a press agent with Warner Bros., the studio behind the Todd Phillips-directed film. The outlet reports the actor returned and explained he panicked because he did not consider the question.

PEOPLE is out to Warner Bros. and Phoenix for comment.

Arthur Fleck/Joker-JOAQUIN PHOENIX
Joker. Niko Tavernise

After the film’s Toronto International Film Festival premiere earlier this month, Collider’s Perri Nemiroff wrote, “#Joker is one of the most unnerving movies I’ve seen in years. Joaquin Phoenix is astounding – the physicality of his work is especially impressive. It’s very well made across the board but I also found it very upsetting & right now I can’t shake that. Need to sit with this more.”

“I saw #Joker — and it is unlike anything before it,” Brandon Davis of tweeted. “The movie is dark, thrilling, and chilling. An insane masterpiece. The movie absolutely transcends being a comic book film and acts as a character study which, at times, will make audiences uncomfortable in wild ways.”

While speaking at the film’s Toronto International Film Festival premiere on Monday night, Phoenix, 44, said playing the Joker was “one of the greatest experiences of [his] career.”

“I mean honestly, it wasn’t an easy decision at first,” the actor said of taking the part, according to Variety. “I didn’t f—ing know. I didn’t. But then there was something that was drawing me toward it. It just evolved as we worked together. It started becoming something more than I anticipated. It was one of the greatest experiences of my career.”

Joker hits theaters Oct. 4.

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