Robert De Niro is going where he’s never gone before: The world of superheroes — or make that, supervillains.

The two-time Oscar winner is in talks to join Joaquin Phoenix in Todd Phillips’ Joker, EW has confirmed.

De Niro would reportedly star in the Joker (Phoenix) origin story as a talk show host who is instrumental in the iconic villain’s descent into madness. The standalone film, which Phillips (The Hangover) is directing and co-writing, is being described as an “exploration of a man disregarded by society” and a “gritty character study.”

Originally, the project could have once again reunited De Niro with frequent collaborator Martin Scorsese (De Niro stars in the director’s next film The Irishman), but EW has confirmed that the filmmaker is no longer on board as a producer.

Joker, which will also star Atlanta‘s Zazie Beetz, lands in theaters on Oct. 4, 2019.