Todd Phillips was intimidated by Joker star Joaquin Phoenix

The filmmaker has also shot down rumours of a sequel.

Todd Phillips has heaped praise on his Joker leading man Joaquin Phoenix, insisting it was intimidating to work with "one of the greats" at first.

The Hangover director had long been a fan of the actor before casting him as Batman's nemesis in the new origins movie, which recently picked up the Golden Lion award for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival in Italy, and he admits he was a joy to work with.

"To me, Joaquin is just one of the greats," Phillips told WENN. "That was my first time working with Joaquin and it was intimidating at first because I hold him in a special place. But I quickly got over that and we got along really well.

"It was a very intense collaboration. Joaquin's previous work always stuck with me, but what I really like about him is his style and his unpredictability, which we felt would very much fit into this character. While other people are doing math, Joaquin is playing jazz. He's just one of the greatest, he's fearless; his work is brave and vulnerable, and I thought if we could get him, we could really do something special."

And Phillips was impressed with his leading man's commitment to the character. Phoenix lost 52 pounds (23.5 kilograms) for the role and often survived on little more than an apple a day.

"I wanted the character to look hungry and unhealthy, like a malnourished wolf," he explained.

The filmmaker has also shot down rumours of a sequel to Joker, and revealed he pitched the movie to Warner Bros. executives as a standalone film.

"We have no plans for a sequel," Phillips explained to reporters at IGN. "The movie's not set up to (have) a sequel. We always pitched it as one movie, and that's it."

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