If you were introduced to Batman by the ’90s animated series, then you’re most likely of the opinion that Mark Hamill is the best Joker we’ve ever had. Hamill’s bone-chilling take on the iconic Batman villain manages to be both incredibly playful and utterly menacing at the same time.
In an interview with Comicbook.com, Hamill opened up about the origins of this beguiling performance and mentioned a surprising influence. It turns out he based the voice on the Blue Meanies in the animated movie The Yellow Submarine. Why? Well, it all came down to the Joker’s black and white drawing that the Star Wars actor saw right before his audition.
“I remember when I auditioned for the Joker, I wasn’t able to see any of the episodes, I wasn’t able to read the script, it was like a three- or four-page audition scene, but they had one, a black-and-white drawing of the Joker, full size, not just a closeup,” Hamill explained. “He had those teeth and, just based on that drawing, it really meant a lot because I thought, ‘I’ve gotta make that, whatever voice I come up with, sound like it’s coming out of that character.'”
“And I thought, ‘Teeth, teeth, teeth, he’s all teeth!’,” he continued. “I threw in a little, the Blue Meanies from Yellow Submarine, ‘Hello, lovey-dovey,’ I wanted to alter him so that he didn’t have just one sound.”
If you go back and listen to the Blue Meanies, specifically their chief Venuz B. Meanie, you can actually hear the foundation of Hamill’s Joker. They both share a strangely sing-song cadence and a hair-trigger temper.
Of course, there’s more to Hamill’s Joker than the Blue Meanies. As Hamill himself told audiences at Star Wars Weekends, he wanted it to sound slightly strained as if The Joker was making an effort for him to maintain some sort of sanity.
If you love Hamill’s take on The Joker, check out our guide on the best Batman actors.