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Mark Hamill Credits Michael Keaton’s ‘Batman’ As An Inspiration For Him To Audition As ‘Joker’

When you hear the name ‘Joker’, Heath Ledger, Joaquin Phoenix and Jack Nicholson are probably the first faces that pop into your head. Without Mark Hamill though, no list of the best on-screen Jokers is complete. The ‘Star Wars’ star (pun intended) was almost certain that they wouldn’t cast him as the ‘Clown Prince of Crime’ in ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ but he further mentions that when he heard Michael Keaton would be voicing Batman, he went to audition immediately.

How did Hamill come to play ‘Joker’?

Michael Keaton had experienced a lot of backlash and overcome controversy surrounding his role as ‘Batman’ and it inspired Mark Hamill to go audition for ‘Joker’ even though he was previously unsure that people would accept ‘Luke Skywalker’ as ‘Joker’. Hamill’s Joker is still considered one of the best by the Batman fan community. Its a role that Hamill has returned to over the years, including in the animated film “Batman: The Killing Joke.”, and the “Batman: Arkham” video games opposite Kevin Conroy. In a recent interview with Wired, Mark has mentioned that the Joker is one of his favorite characters to play “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.”

“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!’”

Mark Hamill on his audition for the part of ‘Joker’

What was the controversy surrounding Keaton as Batman?

Hamill recalled in an interview that Keaton’s casting as Bruce Wayne/Batman earned immense backlash from comic book fans as they saw him in a more comedic light, having famously played lead roles in films such as “Mr. Mom” and Tim Burton’s “Beetlejuice.” Hamill said of the Joker role,“I had a confidence that really helped me because there was this big outcry that Michael Keaton was gonna play Batman. ‘Oh, he’s Mr. Mom, he’s a comedy actor.’ ” At the time, nobody believed Keaton would be a good Batman but he soon proved them all wrong.