How did an unpredictable star known for loners and killers wind up in a studio blockbuster based on a comic book? Think of it more as a character study.

It wasn't clear where the conversation with Joaquin Phoenix went off-track, assuming it was ever on track to begin with. But now he was batting me around the way a cat bounces its prey between its paws before devouring it.

At this moment, it wasn't my questions about why, in an idiosyncratic film career, he had chosen to play the Joker, the cackling comic-book criminal, or how he had prepared for

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