The praise for Joaquin Phoenix‘s portrayal of DC’s most iconic villain continues to pour in, more than a month after his solo origin story was released in theaters. Joker has already become the highest-grossing R-rated movie in box office history, and it’s on the verge of crossing the $1 billion mark very soon. In addition to the film’s overall success, Phoenix has received a ton of praise and awards attention for his role, not just from critics but also his industry peers.
The latest of these compliments comes from actor Aaron Eckhart, who also has experience in the world of Batman villainy. Eckhart portrayed Harvey Dent opposite Christian Bale in The Dark Knight, so he knows a bit about what it takes to bring one of Bruce Wayne’s foes to life. During an interview with EW, Eckhart said that Phoenix and the late Heath Ledger have paved the way for anyone trying to portray a villain on screen.
“I think Heath [Ledger] and Joaquin [Phoenix] are showing the way,” Eckhart said. “They’re showing the way in the sense that they’re just being very real and that they go all the way into the bottom of their soul and find where it comes from and they give it to us. That’s what those guys did and I think audiences appreciate that the most.”
Eckhart, Ledger, and Phoenix all share a DC connection, one that extends to a substantial portion of those working in Hollywood. For instance, Tommy Lee Jones played the same on-screen character as Eckhart, Harvey Dent, just a decade or so earlier. Recent casting reports from Matt Reeves’ The Batman suggest that Dent, aka Two-Face, will also play a role in the latest big screen iteration of the comic. Whoever lands the role will become the third actor to play Dent since 1995.
“It’s all so funny but I don’t think about that stuff too much because as I’m getting older, I’m getting more boring,” Eckhart added. “It is all so interesting, though — especially seeing my friend Joaquin Phoenix who is killing it with Joker.
“Throughout the span of your career, I guess you find yourselves in these movies. I was happy and very honored to be in The Dark Knight and all of the tentacles and the connections that it has throughout life and everybody’s life in Hollywood now.”
Joker is currently playing in theaters.