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Robin Williams lost one of the best villain roles to Jack Nicholson

Robin Williams and Jack Nicholson are two of the all time greats. In the '80s, they duked it out over one of the best movie villain roles in cinema history.

Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting

Imagine saying ‘no’ to Robin Williams. It’s borderline impossible, right? He was one of the best actors of his generation, and one of the most charismatic men in Hollywood – especially during the heights of the ’90s. However, when the choice is between Robin Williams and Jack Nicholson, things get harder.

In fact, both men were up for the role of one of the best movie villains of all time and Williams was ultimately rejected in favor of The Shining star. The part in question, of course, was Batman’s arch-nemesis Joker in Tim Burton’s 1989 superhero movie, starring Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne.

“It happens. Everyone has those stories. Even Jack [Nicholson’s] been ripped off a couple of times,” said Williams, reflecting on missing out on the part.

“Sometimes they use you as bait,” he continued. “They’ll say, ‘we’re sending it out to him!’ and so you go for it, and then they give it to somebody else, so he goes, ‘well I’ll better take it, then.'”

He concluded, “I don’t know what happened with that. Maybe there’ll be something else down the line. Maybe [I’ll play] the Riddler. Who knows?”

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Williams never did play the Riddler, unfortunately, as that role ended up going to Jim Carrey in 1995. However, there’s little doubt that while Nicholson was absolutely astonishing in the role (of course he was, how could he not have been?), Williams would have brought something very special to Joker too. Or, for that matter, Riddler.

Joker in particular is a role that carrier an enormous history, with Nicholson, Heath Ledger, and most recently Joaquin Phoenix managing to grasp it, and turn it into something brilliant and unique each time. Williams’ own take would have been fascinating to see, but the idea of him as Batman’s ultimate villain now remains confined to our imaginations.

For more on the DCU and Gotham, check out our ranking of the Batman actors, and see all the latest updates on the Joker 2 release date. You can also learn more about The Batman 2 release date, and see the schedule of all the new movies coming out this year before catching up with watching the DC movies in order. Speaking of which, you can also read our Blue Beetle review.