When Mark Hamill auditioned for The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series, he assumed he wouldn't get the role.
There have been a lot of actors who have put their stamp on the iconic Batman villain, the Joker, and Mark Hamill’s voice performance on Batman: The Animated Series easily ranks among the best. But apparently, Hamill didn’t think he had much of a shot at the role, and he was pretty lax in his audition, as he puts it, “When I went in [for the Joker role], I thought, ‘You think they’re gonna hire Luke Skywalker to play the Joker?” He then added, “A lot of times there’s performance anxiety because you want the part, here I knew I couldn’t get the part, so who cares?” (via Deadline)
Of course, Mark Hamill’s performance was so stellar that they had no choice but to cast him, and the rest is history. Hamill would go on to voice Joker in 85 episodes of Batman: The Animated Series and various animated DC films. Undoubtedly, part of the reason Hamill was cast is that he disappears into the role — there’s no way you would be able to tell that Luke Skywalker is doing that maniacal laugh.
We’re fortunate that Mark Hamill even went for the Joker role in the first place, as he obviously didn’t think he would get the part. However, he indicated that Michael Keaton‘s casting as Batman also helped him gain some confidence and feel like he could nab the Joker role, even if he was being cast against type. There was a backlash when Keaton was cast as Batman, as he was primarily known for comedic roles like Mr. Mom, but that turned out for the best.
It’s understandable that Mark Hamill was apprehensive, as the Joker is a pretty intimidating role to fill. As one of the most beloved comic villains of all time, there is undoubtedly a lot of pressure to fill the shoes of the Clown Prince of Crime. One actor that could have likely sympathized with Hamill was Heath Ledger, whose casting as the Joker in The Dark Knight was met with a heavy dose of skepticism.
Heath Ledger then made the skeptics look like fools when he gave one of the most iconic comic book movie performances of all time, even earning a well-deserved posthumous Oscar for his efforts. Mark Hamill and Heath Ledger definitely rank at the top of the list when it comes to the best actors to ever play the Joker, even though they might not have been the first choice. The latest actors to take on the Joker roles are Barry Keoghan and Joaquin Phoenix, and hopefully, they can carry the torch.
Joaquin Phoenix was great in 2019’s Joker, but we didn’t get to see him in the villain persona until the end. So we should get a lot more of his performance as Joker in the upcoming Joker: Folie a Deux. As for Mark Hamill, you can catch him in the comedy The Machine, which is now in theaters.