Report: Joker's mother to feature in DC origin film, Frances McDormand turns down role

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Jul 16, 2018, 11:36 AM EDT

Now that Warner Bros. has officially landed its star, Joaquin Phoenix, for its upcoming gritty Joker origin movie, the studio is looking to fill out the rest of the supporting cast. We don't know much about the other roles still to be filled in the film, but now we know one of them is apparently the Clown Prince of Crime's mother, and the project is after a big name.

Friday evening, The Wrap's Umberto Gonzalez tweeted out this little tidbit of news revealing that two-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand (FargoThree Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) had been approached to play the Joker's mother in the upcoming film, but turned the role down.

It's not surprising to see Warner Bros. going after someone with both prestige and name recognition for this role. This version of the Joker, distinct from the one Jared Leto debuted in Suicide Squad two years ago, is going to be introduced via a mid-budget, gritty crime drama that will serve as a "gritty character study" for one of DC Comics' most recognizable villains, and it's also expected to give us a very clear look at his origin story. To that end, his mother would likely play a key role, and McDormand is just months removed from her second Oscar win, so it's easy to see why the studio would be interested in securing her for the film. Now that she's reportedly passed, though, other veteran actresses will have a shot at the role.

Directed and co-written by Todd Phillips (The Hangover), the still-untitled Joker film is the first in what could grow to be a new line of darker DC Comics-based films at Warner Bros. that capitalize on the familiarity of the characters while not being so tangled in the continuity of the DC Extended Universe. Phoenix officially signed on as the star last week after months of speculation, setting the stage for yet another take on the Joker character even as Leto is still lining up potential future projects for his version.

The untitled Joker film does not yet have a release date, but could begin shooting as early as this fall.