Mark Hamill on Joker Effort Being Inspired by Michael Keaton's Batman
In a new video interview, iconic Joker actor Mark Hamill explains how it was Michael Keaton's turn as Batman that encouraged him to audition.
Nostalgia is running rampant for fans of a certain age (i.e. myself) as we prepare to see the legendary Michael Keaton don the cape and cowl for the first time in 30 years in his return to the role of Batman in the upcoming film The Flash. As iconic and beloved as Keaton is as Batman (he still regularly ranks in the top spot on fan-favorite lists), when his casting was first announced in 1988, it caused an uproar amongst comic book fans so loud that Warner Bros. heard it loud and clear even in those pre-internet days. Of course, Keaton was steadfast in his performance and eventually won everyone over, including a future clown prince of crime.
In a new Autocomplete Interview with WIRED where stars reveal the most Googled questions about them and provide the answers, iconic Star Wars actor Mark Hamill was asked how he got the role of Batman's arch nemesis The Joker in 1992's groundbreaking Batman: The Animated Series. It turns out it was Keaton's turn as the Caped Crusader a couple of years earlier that gave Hamill the motivation he needed to secure the part.
"I had a confidence that really helped me because there was this big outcry that Michael Keaton was gonna play Batman," Hamill explained, adding how it was that fan backlash that inspired him. "'Oh, he's 'Mr. Mom,' he's a comedy actor.' I mean, they hadn't even seen him [in the role], and they didn't realize how great he would become. But, there was great controversy."
"When I went in [for the Joker role], I thought, 'You think they're gonna hire Luke Skywalker to play the Joker? The fans will lose their minds!'" Hamill continued, "I was so sure that I couldn't be cast. I was completely relaxed. 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? I drove out of the parking lot thinking, 'That's the best Joker they'll ever hear, and it's too bad they can't cast me.' And as soon as they did cast me, it reversed. I was like, 'Oh no, I can't do this!'"
His nerves were calmed, though, and Mark Hamill voiced The Joker in numerous tv shows, video games, films, and pretty much every medium you can imagine for the following 30 years. While it all started as just a personal challenge on the heels of Michael Keaton conquering the role of Batman, why did Hamill stick with The Joker for so many years after the initial incarnation of Batman: The Animated Series ended in 1995? "Because he's insane, and because he's insane, he's never boring. It's just fun to play a character who creates chaos everywhere he goes."