Mark Hamill Only Voiced The Joker After Another Actor Got Sick

The original voice of the Joker was a legendary actor, but when this actor got sick, Mark Hamill was called in. Hamill auditioned and eventually became the permanent Joker.

By Dan Lawrence | Published

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Mark Hamill is known to many as Luke Skywalker, the Tatooine farmboy turned Jedi Knight who helped save the galaxy in the groundbreaking original Star Wars trilogy. However, one of his greatest roles has been in voice acting, as for several decades across animated tv series, films, and video games, Hamill has portrayed the clown prince of crime himself, the arch-nemesis of Batman, the Joker. Slashfilm reports that despite this being a career-defining role for Mark Hamill over the last few decades, it almost never came to pass. 

The original voice behind the mic playing the Joker on Batman: The Animated Series was Tim Curry, famed for roles in the likes of Clue, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and The Hunt for Red October as well as portraying Pennywise the Dancing Clown in the 1990 IT miniseries. The Things report that Curry got close to landing the role of the Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman before being cast in Batman: The Animated Series. Ultimately, after several episode recordings, Curry lost the role, declaring it was down to illness, specifically bronchitis. In stepped Mark Hamill. 

Mark Hamill’s tenure as the Joker came to pass when he was cast on Batman: The Animated Series before reprising the role in the Batman: Arkham videogame series and animated movies such as Batman: The Killing Joke. Hamill’s manic laugh and carefully wrought and sinister voice have made his performance as the Joker not only a benchmark to all other voice actors who take on the role but for live-action interpretations as well. However, it turns out, that Hamill only came in as a guest star on Batman: The Animated Series when the original casting of the character was terminated following Curry’s sickness. 

Andrea Romano, the casting director on Batman: The Animated Series spoke to about how Hamill came in and snatched the part; “Mark’s agent had reached out and said, ‘Mark is an enormous comic book fan [sic], a huge fan of Batman, and would love to be part of the series. “The auditions for The Joker replacement came up, we gave [Hamill] a shot, and he was stunning! Absolutely remarkable. His timing was right on, he came up with this terrifying voice and an iconic laugh and I think that’s the voice everybody hears when they think of The Joker.” In other words, a devoted comic book fan and incredibly gifted actor won over the casting director with an impassioned and incredible performance and so a guest role became a character-defining performance. 

In the present day, Mark Hamill is still going strong in the world of comic book adaptations. Hamill has been cast in the role of Mervyn Pumpkinhead in Netflix’s hotly-anticipated Sandman series, adapted from Neil Gaiman’s iconic comic book series, and has featured over on Amazon’s Invincible animated comic book series as superhero tailor Art Rosenbaum. As for the Joker, his career endures, with multiple live-action appearances set for the future. Joaquin Phoenix will return as the clown prince of crime in Todd Phillips’ recently announced Joker sequel and Barry Keoghan made his debut as the Joker in a deleted scene from Matt Reeves’ The Batman. 

In the world of animation, Mark Hamill has shared the role of the Joker with countless actors. Such as Michael Emerson in the 2012 animated adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns, Alan Tudyk in Harley Quinn, and Zach Galifianakis in The Lego Batman Movie, but thanks to an incredible guest appearance, Mark Hamill’s turn as the Joker will be remembered for many years to come.