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All Actors Who Played the Joker in Batman

Since the character of Batman was first created in the 1930s, the Joker has remained the superhero’s most iconic nemesis. The character of the Joker has been portrayed by various actors on the screen. Below, we will go over all actors who played the joker. Examples include Cesar Romero in 1966’s Batman to Joaquin Phoenix in the infamous villain’s first solo film. Each actor has brought something unique to the role, though some have been more successful in their portrayals. Join Facts Verse as we take a look at every actor who played the Joker in Batman.

Actors Who Played The Joker

Cesar Romero

Although the Joker had been portrayed in live-action serials, Cesar Romero is the actor people think of when they think of the first live-action Joker. Cesar began portraying the character on the aptly titled series Batman in 1966, and also featured in that series’ theatrical adaptation.

Before becoming the Joker, Cesar Romero was already a legend. The actor had gotten his start in the industry back in the 1930s, performing in the role of the villain of the 1934 feature The Thin Man. Later in the decade, he could be seen in a much friendlier capacity as Shirley Temple’s neighbor in the film The Little Princess.

Besides the fact that Cesar Romero could act, he could also dance. The actor could be seen performing elaborate routines alongside such stars as Carmen Miranda in films like 1941’s Week-End in Havana. The year after that film’s premiere, the actor volunteered for the Coast Guard and went on to serve during World War II in 1944.

Cesar’s portrayal of the Joker didn’t deviate too much from the character’s iconic visage and personality in early comic books. The character was more of a prankster than a murderous villain, though his criminal pranks still necessitated the character of Batman to put them to an end. With his brightly colored outfit and larger-than-life personality, Cesar represented the Golden Age comic book character come to life in most ways… except for the fact that the actor refused to shave the iconic mustache that he had already been donning for the majority of his career.

Jack Nicholson

Although people loved 1966’s Batman, the series had perhaps made the character of the Joker seem a bit too campy in the eyes of the public. Because of this, Tim Burton was advised to go a darker route when casting the character for his 1989 film adaptation. The film represented Batman’s first true blockbuster movie, and the character of the Joker needed to be cast carefully in order to please the audience.

Many names were kicked around when casting the character of the Joker for Batman’s first serious go-around on the big screen. Such names included Tim Curry, David Bowie, and Robin Williams. Tim Burton’s pick for the role was Brad Dourif, while Batman’s creator, Bob Kane, wanted Jack Nicholson to play the character. Jack Nicholson ended up winning the role, with the studio using Robin Williams as an alternative when negotiating Jack Nicholson’s price down.

Although the casting of Michael Keaton as Batman was met with some initial ire, fans were universally pleased with the choice of Jack Nicholson. The actor had risen to prominence playing a variety of psychopaths, not the least of which was Jack Torrance in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Although Jack Nicholson’s performance as the Joker may seem as campy nowadays as Cesar Romero’s was, it seemed like a much darker portrayal given the time. In fact, Cesar Romero later said that he was disturbed by Jack Nicholson’s performance as the character of the Joker in the 1989 film.

Heath Ledger

Besides Mark Hamill’s respected tenure as the Joker’s voiceover artist on Batman: The Animated Series, Jack Nicholson remained the preeminent Joker in the eyes of the public for nearly two decades before 2008’s The Dark Knight came along with its shocking performance from Heath Ledger. Not only did Heath Ledger immerse himself in the character, but he also tragically died before the film was released.

The actor’s portrayal of the character was so successful that he was given a posthumous Academy Award. Director Christopher Nolan had previously sought Heath out to play the character of Batman in Batman Begins.

Heath Ledger was only 28 years old at the time of his death. The actor died of an accidental prescription drug overdose. Infamously, Jack Nicholson was said to have warned Heath Ledger before taking on the role of the Joker that it was quite the emotional investment.

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Jared Leto

Heath Ledger’s performance had been so successful that there was immense pressure on the next performer of the character. The character was recast less than a decade after The Dark Knight‘s release, and the studio eventually decided on Jared Leto. The casting of Jared Leto was met with immediate anger. The actor was considered too much of a pretty boy to portray the character. However, many Batman fans said the same thing when Heath Ledger was cast in The Dark Knight.

The Dark Knight’s Joker had been the darkest iteration of the character so far, so director David Ayer decided to go a different direction when reinventing the character for Suicide Squad. Although Jared Leto’s role as the Joker in the film wasn’t its focal point, it was still an important part of the movie that drew people in. Despite the fact that Suicide Squad ended up making a lot of money, it was a critical failure and disappointed a lot of diehard Batman fans. Fans were particularly disappointed with the film’s Joker.

Besides featuring Jared Leto’s on-screen debut as the character of the Joker, Suicide Squad also featured the on-screen debut of the character of Harley Quinn. The character had been introduced as the Joker’s sidekick and love interest in Batman: The Animated Series and has become one of the most iconic characters in Batman’s immense lore in the years since. Harley Quinn was portrayed by actress Margot Robbie in the film, who has gone on to reprise the role twice since. However, neither of these reprisals featured her returning to her position alongside the Joker.

Jared Leto got his start acting on the short-lived teen drama television series My So-Called Life and went on to achieve success in films like Fight Club and Requiem for a Dream. In addition to being an actor, Jared is also known as the singer of the band 30 Seconds to Mars. The band is popular with a teen demographic, and Jared’s status as a teen idol certainly didn’t give Batman fans confidence that Jared was the right man to portray the character’s most infamous nemesis.

It remains to be seen whether or not Jared Leto will continue to portray the character of the Joker, but it remains unlikely. The actor did reprise the role in a brief capacity in 2021’s Zack Snyder’s Justice League, which premiered on the HBO Max streaming service. The film represented an alternative version of the 2017 film Justice League, which Zack Snyder sadly had to quit after the suicide of his teenage daughter. Director Joss Whedon was brought in to finish the version that ended up being released in 2017, which did not contain any appearances from Jared Leto’s Joker.

Joaquin Phoenix

Although it’s debatable whether Joaquin Phoenix’s turn as the Joker will go down as the most iconic, the actor can lay claim to being the first person to portray the character in his own solo film. 2019’s Joker might not be the first time that the character of the Joker was given a darker portrayal, but it arguably represents the character’s most dramatic portrayal on film. While Heath Ledger’s Joker was meant to intimidate, Joaquin’s Joker seems to have been designed to draw sympathy from the audience. The film turned the character into something of an antihero. Many of his more violent tendencies were chalked up to mental illness.

2019’s Joker was produced by Martin Scorsese. It’s arguably no coincidence that the film closely resembles two of the director’s most classic features: Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. In fact, Joker even features the star of those two films: legendary Hollywood actor Robert De Niro. Although Robert De Niro doesn’t have the biggest role in Joker, his role is a very important one. As well, his performance in the film received plenty of acclaim from fans and critics alike after the film’s release.

Although most of the public seems to have taken fairly kindly to Joaquin Phoenix’s unique portrayal of the character of the Joker, it remains unlikely that the actor will come back to reprise his role as the character. The actor is notoriously averse to long-term contracts and likely only took the role with the stipulation that it was meant to be a one-off exploration of the character that didn’t tie into any other films. Still, Joaquin has said that he isn’t ruling out the possibility of returning to the role of the Joker in some capacity if he thinks the project that he is being offered appears rewarding.

A new Batman film is set to premiere in early 2022, though it will focus on Batman fighting the Riddler instead of the Joker. When it comes time for the Joker to be brought back to the screen, it remains to be seen which actor will be chosen to portray him! Until then, there are plenty of classic cinematic Jokers to revisit, including the more recent portrayals by actors Joaquin Phoenix and Jared Leto.

Comment down below to share your favorite actors who played The Joker. Let us know if you have any ideas about who would make a good Joker in Robert Pattinson’s Batman. As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!

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