EXCLUSIVE: Robert De Niro is in talks to join Joaquin Phoenix in Warner Bros’ Joker origins movie starring Joaquin Phoenix. Todd Phillips is directing and co-wrote the backstory tale of Batman’s archnemesis, which is described as a gritty character study but also a broader cautionary tale of a man disregarded by society who becomes the ultimate supervillain.

These talks have been going on for weeks, but a deal is near and they have finally worked out the financials. As opposed to the iconic turn Jack Nicholson took in the Joker role in Tim Burton’s Batman, De Niro will be bringing his iconic status to a different role. Sources said he’ll play a talk show host, a formative figure in the development of the character who eventually becomes The Joker. But De Niro’s character is not a villain, I’m told.

Co-scripted by Scott Silver (The Fighter), the untitled DC Universe film will do battle against Paramount’s sci-fi pic Gemini Man and Fox’s Amy Adams thriller The Woman in the Window which are also dated October 4, 2019.  

Emma Tillinger Koskoff is producing the WB/Village Roadshow Joker movie, which Richard Baratta is exec producing. Filming begins in the fall on the pic, which is expected to be released under a new DC banner.

De Niro is repped by CAA.