Arts & Entertainment

Robert De Niro Wanted to Reprise an Iconic Role in The Joker

If only anyone had asked him

The Joker trailer dropped yesterday, and though he was only in it very briefly, Robert De Niro's shadow loomed large over the two-minute glimpse into the origin story of the DC villain.

De Niro's playing TV host Murray Franklin in Todd Phillips' new film, but there's one character from his past who is key to understanding where the whole thing's headedRupert Pupkin, De Niro's fantasist and failed comedian from The King of Comedy.

"There’s a connection, obviously, with the whole thing," De Niro told Indiewire. "But it’s not as a direct connection as the character I’m playing being Rupert many years later as a host."

That said, though, De Niro would probably have been up for doing exactly that: "If they would’ve proposed that to me, I would’ve said, 'That’s interesting, maybe we’ll try to do that'. But by making this type of film, it is connected in a way, as you’ll see."


The Taxi Driver-Raging Bull-King of Comedy nexus is an obvious influence here (Martin Scorsese was a producer early on in proceedings before exiting) and The Irishman, the next in the series of Scorsese-De Niro collabs, sounds like it's coming along nicely. De Niro reckons that the de-ageing tech that's being used on himself and Al Pacino "looks really good" and is several streets ahead of the slightly clunkier gear he's been subjected to in the past.

"When I did it in Grudge Match, we had more obstructive things on," De Niro said. "Marty was concerned, rightly so, that we should not have things on us that would be distracting. We had some dots, some reflective things, all subtle stuff."

This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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