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Jack Nicholson used to sleep through his Joker makeup

It turns out that even Gotham's biggest villain needs some shut eye. Jack Nicholson used to sleep through his Joker makeup on the set of Tim Burton's Batman

The Joker in Batman

Normal folk may struggle to sleep while in the dark city of Gotham. However, if you happen to be the one terrorising said fictional city, and the best Batman villain of all time, it turns out that napping is no problem at all. During an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Michael Keaton, who played Bruce Wayne in the superhero movie Batman, shared how his co-star Jack Nicholson had a habit of getting some shut eye on the set of the 1989 production.

Directed by Tim Burton, the DC movie Batman saw Keaton as the caped crusader face off against the iconic baddie, The Joker – played by Nicholson. Now, if you are familiar with the world of DC, you know that the clown villain’s look is pretty unique – with a white-out face, green hair and a creepy red smile.

As such, Jackson had to go into makeup everyday before shooting began, and according to Keaton, the legendary actor would be snoring almost straight away as soon as he sat down in the chair to get ready for the action movie.

“Every morning, it would go like this,” Keaton explained before jumping to his feat to re-enact the scene. “He’d walk in and go ‘morning Keats’, and then he would go into makeup, which was extensive and just go like this [pretends to snore] and sleep! Which is wise.”

The Batman actor went on to reveal just how impressive Nicholson’s ability to slumber was, recalling a specific moment that took him off guard. “We would talk about sports a lot… now understand, back then on the BBC you couldn’t watch anything, there was nothing. So you would scramble looking for anything to watch, any sports activity,” Keaton explained before describing his interaction with Nicholson.

Keaton then acted as his co-star again, leaning back into his chair and closing his eyes, “Morning Keats. Damn good darts tournament last night,” before mimicking snoring again straight away. “My hand to god,” Keaton said, at the end of his performance of the memory.

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However, despite his tendency to get some shut-eye, Nicholson did actually play a huge part in the makeup for The Joker. Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, the star shared how he worked closely with Burton to perfect the look, clashing with the director over how bright the green hair of the villain should be.

“When you look at the comics, his hair is not bright green. You also might see it as a lighting effect,” Nicholson explained, recalling how Burton wanted a bright green do for the Joker.

Ultimately Jackson’s suggestion for less colour worked out. “We did the test on the wig, and immediately he saw it was too bright,” he said. “Change the wig. Much less green area. Much less fright wig element.”

So sleeping or not, Nicholson never slacked when it came to Batman. So Gotham, beware, and have a look at our guide to the Batman movies to see how others did it.