Jokers Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix Were Actually Good Friends

Samantha Faragalli Younghans - Author

Apr. 21 2020, Updated 11:52 a.m. ET

heath ledger joaquin phoenix friends
Source: Getty Images

There has been so much buzz around Joaquin Phoenix's new movie Joker since its triumphant premiere on Friday, Oct. 4, but fans still can't help but compare the new flick to Heath Ledger's 2008 version titled The Dark Knight

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And since both actors have portrayed the insane role, fans can't help but wonder: were Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix friends? Scroll down for everything we know about their relationship.

Were Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix friends?

Yes, Heath and Joaquin were friends before Heath's tragic death from a drug overdose in January 2008. They were previously photographed looking happy and laughing at the 12th Annual SAG Awards in January 2006, The 78th Annual Academy Awards in March 2006, and the Vanity Fair Oscars Party that same year.

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joaquin phoenix heath ledger
Source: Getty Images

Since the two actors were friends, some fans simply aren't happy that viewers are taking so much time to compare the performances of the two. "Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix were friends. So, how about we stop with the extreme comparisons of their Joker performances and propping up one to s--t on the other? It's disrespectful and tasteless," one user wrote. "Heath would be proud of what his peer has accomplished."

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But that hasn't stopped everyone from doing so, and it seems a lot of people are team Joaquin. "With all due respect to previous Jokers and to the great Heath Ledger, Joaquin Phoenix is the best Joker. He has everything it needs. We finally have a proper actor playing the character in a very unfamiliar new shape," another fan added. "If Ledger’s a straight flush, Phoenix’s a full deck."

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"Joaquin Phoenix performance definitely outdoes Heath Ledger for me. Love how dark the movie is. Both definitely put there own unique twist on the Joker though and both unbelievable performances," another chimed in.

One shared, "I thought it would take a long time before someone delivers Joker better than Heath Ledger.  As it turned out it only took 11 years and a certain Joaquin Phoenix."

Why is Joker so controversial? 

Despite Joaquin's stellar performance, the new film has brought on a lot of buzz and controversy just like The Dark Knight did after a mass shooting during a 2012 showing of the movie in Aurora, Colorado.

On top of that, the rated R flick is violent and grim as it follows the psychopath Arthur Fleck who, at night, turns into the Joker. 

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"I didn’t imagine that it would be smooth sailing," Joaquin told Vanity Fair of the reaction to the movie. “It’s a difficult film. In some ways, it’s good that people are having a strong reaction to it."

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But despite the mixed reactions to one of the most popular movies of the year, Joaquin wouldn't be opposed to a sequel, as he's proud of his role. "You know, I wouldn’t have thought about this as my dream role. But now, honestly, I can’t stop thinking about it,” Joaquin said. 

joker sequel
Source: Getty Images

Joaquin with director Todd Phillips.

"I talked to Todd a lot about what else we might be able to do, in general, just to work together, but also specifically, if there’s something else we can do with Joker that might be interesting," he continued. "So, it ended up being a dream role. It’s nothing that I really wanted to do prior to working on this movie." 

Here's hoping a second installment of the film happens one day, so Joaquin can make Heath proud again.

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