The word on the street, or Variety anyway, is that Joaquin Phoenix is filmmaker Todd Phillips’ top choice to play the role of The Joker in the planned stand-alone movie he’s directing over at Warner Brothers. The trade says that The Hangover trilogy helmer Phillips, who is also writing the movie, has confirmed that Phoenix has said yes in regards to taking the part too, though they also add that negotations have yet to start. There has been no official comment from Warner Brothers.

The new ‘Joker’ movie is said to be an origin story though won;t be set in the universe of DC movie that includes Suicide Squad, where Jared Leto played the character. The trade says that the story may take place in the ’80s and have more of the look of a gritty crime drama than comic-book movie.

Phillips had reportedly met with Phoenix before the new year and was just waiting for the studio’s go-ahead. Leonardo DiCaprio has also been linked to the part, though Variety adds that that idea has now run cold.

Phoenix will next be seen in You Were Never Really There, the film that he won the Best Actor prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. The Lynne Ramsay movie will be released later in the year.