When it comes to iconic villains in all the Batman movies, the Joker is always top of the pack. The character holds a special place in any DC fan’s heart, and it turns out that fact is also true for the actors who play the Gotham criminal.
Jack Nicholson famously played the Joker in Tim Burton’s 1989 action movie Batman, opposite Michael Keaton’s Bruce Wayne. And even though his villain perished at the end of the flick, the acclaimed actor wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the part – even when Heath Ledger came to inherit the role in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy in 2008.
In an interview with MTV in 2007, Nicholson was asked about the upcoming release of The Dark Night – the film that saw Ledger take up the role of the Joker against Christian Bale’s Batman. “I’m furious. I’m furious,” the actor said. “They never asked me about a sequel with the Joker. I know how to do that! Nobody ever asked me”.
“Not asking me how to do the sequel is that kind of thing. Maybe it’s not a mistake. Maybe it was the right thing, but to be candid, I’m furious,” Nicholson continued. The star then went on to explain why he was so competitive with the role of the iconic Batman villain. “Well, the Joker comes from my childhood. That’s how I got involved with it in the first place. It’s a part I always thought I should play”.
“I’m not inclined to watch it because of what I said. But if it’s a good movie, I’ll catch up with it somewhere,” he continued referring to The Dark Night. But, whether Nicholson did ever check out his Joker successor with an open mind is still up in the air, as the star was such a huge fan of Tim Burton’s take on Gotham.
In the interview, Nicholson explained how, ultimately, he preferred Burton’s vision of the caped crusader over Nolan’s, who had released the thriller movie Batman Begins two years prior to his sequel, The Dark Knight.
“I don’t think they ever really captured Tim Burton’s spirit. They kind of drove the franchise into the ground. Tim Burton’s a genius. He had the right take on it. That’s why I did the movie. I did the movie based on a single conversation with him”, he said.
Despite Nicholson’s claim of driving the Batman franchise into the ground, Heath Ledger would go on to receive mass acclaim for his performance as the villain. The Dark Knight is also considered by many to be one of the best superhero movies ever made. So, credit where credit is due, eh?
While we would love to see Nicholson back as the Joker, the actor never returned to the role. Instead, we have since seen a number of Joker actors hit the big screen, with Barry Keoghan the most likely latest candidate to play the part in Matt Reeves’ upcoming film – The Batman 2.