A look at 10 actors who almost played the role of DC’s most iconic villain, The Joker.
The Joker has easily been the most popular and recognizable villain of the DC universe. If you call the casting of Bruce Wayne the most vital part of a Batman movie, then casting the role of Joker is another such task. Proven to be one of the most difficult roles in history, many stars of Hollywood have wanted to play the clown prince of crime in the past. His character remains to be the most iconic comic book characters of all time and has always required the finest of actors to fit in his shoes.
There has always been a controversy around the actors who have been selected to portray Joker. While some went on to receive acclamation from the Oscars, some went unnoticed.
Due to his multiple appearances in the DC movies, Warner Bros. studios have considered numerous performers to play his role. However, several stars couldn’t end up getting selected. Here’s a list of 10 actors who almost bagged the role of the psychic master criminal, The Joker.
10) John Lithgow
Back in 1989, the 74-year-old American Actor, John Lithgow expressed his desire to play the role of Joker. The actor who’s known famously for his roles in movies like Interstellar and Rise of The Planet of The Apes even auditioned for this role but later termed it as one of is worst Audition ever. The actor said “My worst audition was for Tim Burton’s Batman. I tried to persuade him I was not right for the part, and I succeeded. I didn’t realize it was such a big deal. About a week later, I heard they were going after Robin Williams and Jack Nicholson.”
9) David Bowie
The legendary music figure, David Bowie was not just known for his rock ‘n’ roll hits. The man with his versatility opened doors in Hollywood for himself as well. in 1986 Bowie starred in the lead opposite Jennifer Connelly in a film called Labyrinth. In the early 80s, a Batman feature film was being planned for which David Bowie was the producer’s first choice. This movie however never happened. In 2016, Jared Leto claimed that his persona of Joker was inspired by the legendary David Bowie.
8) Willem Dafoe
In the 1989 installment of Batman, Jack Nicholson was Warner Bros. Studios’ first pick. However for his role’s backup it was the Spiderman fame actor Willem Dafoe who was their consideration. Dafoe even told that he had a talk with film’s screenwriter Sam Hamm who said his face is perfectly suited for the role. Nevertheless, Willem Dafoe went on to play the iconic role of Spiderman’s villain Gren Goblin and became a part of the superhero movies renaissance of the 20th century.
7) Frank Sinatra
Surprisingly, even the jazz legend wanted to enact the murderous maniac Joker early in the 1960s. Played by Cesar Romero who defined the character for generations, this role of Joker was a part of the 1966 Batman TV show. Burt Ward, who played the role of Robin in the series confirmed that Frank Sinatra also wanted to play the green-haired vicious villain of the DC universe. Burt Ward said “From what I understand, Frank Sinatra was very upset because he couldn’t play the Joker.”
6) Tim Curry
In a mere case of bad luck, Tim Curry missed out on his opportunity to enact as another Joker. Tim who was playing the character of Pennywise in the TV miniseries of ‘IT’ in the early 90s, voiced for the animated adaptation of Batman. His episodes however never aired. Curry said “I did play Joker for a while but i had bronchitis so they fired me and hired Mark Hamill instead. That’s life”
5) Ray Liota
American actor Ray Liota who is known for crime/drama of 1990, Goodfellas, also happens to be in our list. In an interview with Buzz, Liota revealed, “When I did my first movie, Tim Burton was getting ready to do Batman and he was interested in me because he wanted it to be edgy and real,” said Liotta. “I thought, ‘Batman? That’s a stupid idea,’ even though he’d had just done one of my favorite movies of all time, Beetlejuice. So yes, I regret not auditioning for that.”
4) Paul Bettany
In 2008, The American-British actor, Paul Bettany who is much known for his role of Vision in the MCU was Nolan’s pick for Joker if Heath Ledger couldn’t work out. However such a day was never witnessed. Ledger went forth with the role of Joker and the rest is history.
3) Adrien Brody
Before Christopher Nolan cast Heath Ledger for Joker, there were a lot of interesting alternatives. One on the list was the Pianist fame American actor Adrien Brody. Brody was so adamant on doing the role that he even met with Nolan. He however later appreciated Nolan’s pick and said “Heath was tremendous in that, but yeah, I would’ve loved to have done that. It was an amazing role. Amazing.”
2) Ryan Gosling
In 2015, the La La Land star was offered to play the role of Suicide Squad’s joker which he himself turned down. The role was clutched by Jared Leto who went on to become the most controversial Joker ever. The sole reason why Gosling let go of the offer was his inclination towards not signing a multi-movie deal. Another Batman character Gosling was linked to in the past is the Dark Knight himself.
1) Robin Williams
Robin Williams probably has the most controversial story about an actor who nearly played Joker. When the producers of Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman were signing Jack Nicholson for the role of Joker, the actor was taking a long time to make his decision of picking the role. So, the producers offered the role to Robin Williams and notified Nicholson that if he didn’t accept the offer, they’d cast Williams.
When Robin Williams discovered he had been used as a bait to swing another actor’s choice, Williams refused to work with Warner Bros. again and even turned down the role of the Riddler in Batman Forever. which he was later offered.
Let us know in the comments who you would’ve loved to see as Joker!