Outside of playing Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars franchise, The Joker is perhaps the character that Mark Hamill is best known for. After voicing the villain to much critical acclaim in Batman: The Animated Series, he’s reprised the role on almost countless occasions, including in the popular Arkham video games and many, many animated efforts from DC.
In fact, some even consider his version of the Clown Prince of Crime to be the definitive one, and while we still think Heath Ledger holds that title, we fully admit that Hamill’s portrayal of the iconic character is downright fantastic and it’s always a treat to hear him bring Mr. J to life. Though it’s difficult to imagine anyone else doing the voice of the Joker now, the actor wasn’t actually the first choice for the role.
As ComicBook.com notes, it was Tim Curry who DC originally wanted for the part. As diehard fans will know, the It star even recorded several episodes of Batman: The Animated Series as the villain before the company decided that his Joker was too scary, thus the decision was made to cast Hamill instead.
Speaking at a Comic-Con panel for Batman: Mask of the Phantasm last weekend, DC’s Bruce Timm was asked about this and explained how they ended up with Hamill:
“Most of you guys probably know Mark first did the voice for us in the first Mr. Freeze episode; he played the guy who caused Mr. Freeze’s wife to end up in a coma. He was so excited and full of enthusiasm for Batman. He’s a huge comic book fan and he really wanted to play one of the big villains at that time and he specifically mentioned The Joker, and at that time we were using Tim Curry as the Joker. And he was really disappointed and he said, ‘well, if anybody else shows up like Hugo Strange or somebody, give me a call.’ So many months later we made the difficult decision to replace Tim and we brought Mark in to audition for The Joker and he nailed it.”
Again, the fact that Curry was at one point set to play the Joker is nothing new, but it’s still fun to hear Timm recount the story of how Hamill eventually landed the role. And though the last time he brought the character to life (not counting Justice League Action) was in The Killing Joke, the actor’s said that he does plan on returning to play the Clown Prince of Crime at some point in the future, so he’s not done with the iconic villain just yet.
Until he hops back in the voice booth, though, we can at least look forward to seeing Hamill in the flesh when he shows up in Star Wars: The Last Jedi later this year.