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Tim Burton needed a translator for Jack Nicholson on Batman

Tim Burton has spoken to Empire about how much he valued working with Jack Nicholson on Batman, but that he struggled to understand him.

Jack Nicholson in Batman

Jack Nicholson is known for being one of the best Joker actors ever, but it turns out that he had something of a communication breakdown with director Tim Burton on the set of 1989’s Batman.

“Jack has a very abstract way of speaking,” the filmmaker told Empire magazine. ” So he would say things to me and I’d go, ‘Yeah, I get it,’ and then I’d go to someone, ‘What the f*** was he just talking about?’ So there was this weird communication: non-linear, non-connective. But it was very clear to me. I felt like we had a good sort of caveman-style communication.” There’s a chance that the Joker makeup was the issue, and Batman actor Michael Keaton has talked about what a nightmare the mask and suit was too.

“[Nicholson] protected me and nurtured me, kept me going, by just not getting too overwhelmed with the whole thing,” Burton added. “I felt really supported by him in a very deep way. I was young and dealing with a big studio, and he just quietly gave me the confidence to do what I needed to do. And him being a voice of support had a lot of resonance with the studio. It got me through the whole thing. It gave me strength.”

Tim Burton made two fantastically gothic Batman movies, including some of the best Batman villains ever, including Danny DeVito’s Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman. The character was then taken over by Joel Schumacher, who took the Batman movies in an extremely cartoonish direction, before Christopher Nolan pulled them down the super dark and serious road that is still prevalent today.

Burton’s most recent project has been the Netflix mega-hit Wednesday, and he directed four episodes. Jack Nicholson has been retired since 2010, but he is of course known for such classics as Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, Chinatown, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and one of the bet horror movies of all time – The Shining.