Mark Hamill and Michael Keaton have in common that they are considered the best Joker and Batman respectively in their distinct venues of animation and live-action, but few are aware they relate in another, less obvious way. Hidden in the truth that without Keaton and the 1989 Batman, we wouldn’t have The Animated Series, is a facet that directly influenced Hamill.
The Star Wars actor revealed recently Keaton inspired him, and if it wasn’t for his portrayal of Batman, Hamill might not have taken the risk and auditioned to voice the Jester of Genocide. Nor did he think he would have a prayer in getting the role since he was known the world over for playing Luke Skywalker.
At the time, before Kathleen Kennedy and Rian Johnson had a say, Luke was a character revered for his honor and discipline. He was the furthest thing in people’s minds from a psycho clown. Much the same, Keaton before 1989 was known as Mr. Mom and Johnny Dangerously, and his Caped Crusader casting was a shock that caused a fierce uproar.
The naysayers were proven wrong and changed their tune rather quickly on Keaton’s Batman, and Hamill tells WIRED he took this turn of events into his audition as a confidence boost. “I just read for it. I had confidence that really helped me because there was this big outcry that Michael Keaton was gonna play Batman,” he said.
“‘Oh, he’s Mr. Mom, he’s a comedy actor.’ I mean, they hadn’t even seen him [in the role] and they didn’t realize how great he would become. But, there was great controversy,” Hamill continued. “When I went in [for the Joker role], I thought, ‘You think they’re gonna hire Luke Skywalker to play the Joker? The fans will lose their minds!’”
He went on, “I was so sure that I couldn’t be cast. I was completely relaxed. A lot of times there’s performance anxiety because you want the part, here I knew I couldn’t get the part, so, who cares? I drove out of the parking lot thinking, ‘That’s the best Joker they’ll ever hear, and it’s too bad they can’t cast me.’”
Or so he thought. “And as soon as they cast me, it reversed. I was like, ‘Oh, no, I can’t do this!’” the actor declared, but his outlook would change. “It’s really one of my favorite characters to play because he’s insane, and because he’s insane, he’s never boring. It’s just fun to play a character who creates chaos everywhere he goes.”
Hamill thinks his days at playing chaos are over due to the passing of Kevin Conroy, but anything can happen. If you want to see Mark Hamill capture the essence of The Joker one more time, or if you feel like reacting to his reminiscing above, then comment below.