Looking back at some of the greatest comic book movie villains, Jack Nicholson ranks pretty high in his portrayal of The Joker in director Tim Burton’s 1989 classic, Batman. The makeup, the script, and the whimsy of it all made for a really fun, villainous portrayal. It wasn’t until Christopher Nolan’s 2008 film, The Dark Knight, that we saw the character return with actor Heath Ledger, who blew audiences away, winning him the Academy Award for best supporting actor, posthumously.
But before Ledger unveiled his dark performance, and news had just hit that he got the role, Nicholson was asked by MTV what he thought of the casting. He said:
“Let me be the way I’m not in interviews. I’m furious. I’m furious. [He laughs.] They never asked me about a sequel with the Joker. I know how to do that! Nobody ever asked me.”
Then when asked if it was ever brought up to him, he said:
“No. It’s like, in any area, you can’t believe the reasons things do or don’t happen. 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,” then he added, “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.”
When asked if he would see the movie, Nicholson said:
“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. I don’t think they ever really captured Tim Burton’s spirit [since he stopped being involved]. 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. We both come from the cartoon world originally. We had similar ideas. Tim said [the Joker] should have a humorous dark side to him. [Burton is] one of the great moviemakers. I think the world of him. He’s the most unassuming man. And he doesn’t feel pressure. That’s what I love about him. Once he’s in there, he’s smiling making the movie. That’s it!”
It was a good movie! So I assume he did get around to watching Ledger’s award-winning portrayal. And I like to think he realized that the casting was good, and he moved on. I wonder what he thought of the rest of the jokers over the years though…