When you hear of DC’s ‘Joker,’ your mind automatically goes to the brilliant, jaw-dropping performance delivered by Heath Ledger. You might even remember Jared Leto’s run as the villain in Suicide Squad. Very rarely is Jack Nicholson’s face the first one to pop up whenever you think of the iconic character. However, this does not mean that the actor was below par in his performance.
Jack Nicholson was incredible in his portrayal of the Joker. His cartoonish appearance in Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) made him look so eerie that he sent chills down viewers’ spines whenever he was in the shot. Jack Nicholson had to go through a lot to achieve the perfect look for Joker, including allergies from the make-up used.
Jack Nicholson Was Allergic to the Special Effects Make-Up
In a behind-the-scenes featurette (via The Hollywood Reporter) of Tim Burton’s Batman, Jack Nicholson opened up about how important it was for him and the team to nail the look of Joker for the film. Everything from the chin to the green hair had to be perfect. In fact, when Burton wanted the wig to be bright green in color, Nicholson opposed him and stated that the wig should be a little understated. Finally, Buron realized that The Shining actor was right when they gave the bright green wig a test drive.
“You don’t want that level of clowning. [Nicholson told Burton] Don’t worry, I will try to be humorous, He is the Joker. We did the test on the wig and immediately he saw it was too bright…Change the wig. Much less green area. Much less fright wig element.”
He then went on to reveal that the make-up process of turning him into Joker was even more taxing than usual because he was allergic to spirit gum, a substance used in almost all special effects make-up.
“One of the ironies of my life is I am allergic to spirit gum, the basic unit to movie makeup.”
According to former makeup artist Jenna Busch, allergies caused by spirit gum can take up to weeks to heal completely. While Nicholson did not elaborate on the intensity of his allergies, we can only imagine what he faced while getting into the role of Joker. Talk about dedication!
Jack Nicholson Always Wanted to Play Joker
While Nicholson was WB’s first choice for the role of Joker, the studio had offered it to the late Robin Williams who was actively campaigning for the part. Later Nicholson agreed to take over the role and the studio went with him, much to Williams’ dismay. While this was a punch to the gut for the Dead Poets Society actor, it was a dream come true for Nicholson.
Talking to MTV in 2007, Nicholson stated that the Joker was connected to his childhood and that he always thought he should play the character sometime in his career.
“The Joker comes from my childhood. That’s how I got involved with it in the first place. It’s a part I always thought I should play.”
As for why Nicholson agreed to do Burton’s film, he gave most of the credit to the filmmaker.
“Tim Burton’s a genius. That’s why I did the movie. I did the movie based on a single conversation with him.”
When Michael Keaton was announced as Burton’s Batman, the casting choice faced some backlash from fans who didn’t like the vision. However, Nicholson as Joker was greatly appreciated by the fans.
You can stream Batman on Max.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter