On Oct. 4, 2019, one of Gotham's greatest villains arrives on the big screen in "Joker" — the long-awaited origin story for one of Batman's greatest nemeses. Wonderwall.com is celebrating the film's debut by taking a look its star and other actors who've played this notorious laughing loon on both the big and small screens. Keep reading for more…
The man behind the grotesque face paint in 2019's "Joker" is Joaquin Phoenix. He's said that what drew him to this particular screenplay was how unique it was, allowing the audience "a range of reactions" to his character's painful origin story. While we expect the film to be a huge success, don't count on a sequel. The movie, which may end up launching the DC Black label — which director Todd Phillips described to the Los Angeles Times as a laboratory for "independent-minded films about these characters" — is meant to be a standalone film.
Did you recognize the menacing (and totally comical) voice of the Joker in the 2017 animated adventure "The Lego Batman Movie"? Here's a hint: He's the star of the Netflix original film "Between Two Ferns: The Movie."
The voice of the Joker in "The Lego Batman Movie" is none other than Zach Galifianakis. Best known for his comedic roles in films like "The Hangover" franchise, "Birdman" and "A Wrinkle in Time," Zach also just ended his run as Chip on the dramatic comedy "Baskets," a series about a man who vows to keep his dreams of being a jester alive after failing French clowning school.
There are few people who wouldn't recognize this actor from 2008's "The Dark Knight." His portrayal of the Joker was so powerfully disturbing that it instantly became one of the most iconic representations of Gotham's twisted villain.
Just months after Australian actor Heath Ledger wrapped "The Dark Knight" — in which he played one of the most terrifying incarnations of the Joker the world had ever seen — he was found dead from an overdose in his Manhattan apartment. Rumors spread that it was the deranged role that led Heath into a mental health spiral, but in 2017, his sister, Kate Ledger, revealed that her brother was actually "happy" and having fun while filming. In 2009, Heath was posthumously awarded an Oscar for best supporting actor for his performance in the movie.
The 2016 fantasy adventure "Suicide Squad" featured a Joker who gave fans some serious creeps. It's hard to believe the deviant crime boss with green hair and a garish smile was the same guy who made hearts swoon on the ABC coming-of-age series "My So-Called Life."
The hunk behind the face paint in "Suicide Squad" is musician and Oscar-winning actor Jared Leto. Though Jared has said he would play the Joker again, he so far will not be appearing in James Gunn's 2021 reboot, "The Suicide Squad."
The actor behind the Joker in 1989's "Batman" has his own trademark smile that perfectly complemented the character's slashed-mouth grin. Not only was his face a good fit for the role, but his amazing acting turned the part into one of the most beloved early versions of the Joker.
The Joker of 1989's "Batman" is none other than the legendary Oscar-winning actor Jack Nicholson. Interesting fact: When Jack learned that Heath Ledger had died shortly after playing the same character nearly two decades later, he mysteriously said, "I warned him," which many interpreted as an insinuation that taking on the Joker was a dangerous endeavor.
You probably wouldn't guess that this beloved "Star Wars" actor was the voice behind the Joker in "Batman: The Animated Series" from 1992 to 1994. Interestingly, the Emmy-winning show wasn't the only project to which this actor lent his voice to play Gotham's greatest menace. He also voiced the Joker in four made-for-TV animated movies, seven additional TV shows (including "Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?" in 2019), an astonishing 13 video games and, as if that weren't enough, four video shorts.
That's right! Mark Hamill, who might be best known for playing Luke Skywalker in the "Star Wars" franchise, is also the incredibly talented voice actor who's brought the Joker to life in a multitude of shows, films and video games. For his work in the sound studio, Mark's won several awards, including a 2012 BAFTA Games Award for best performer and a 2010 Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Award for outstanding achievement in character performance.
The actor who portrayed the garishly painted Joker on the 1966 TV series "Batman" and in "Batman: The Movie" also has the distinct honor of being the first to ever play the role on screen.
Cuban-American actor Cesar Romero was the first person to ever land the role of the Joker. Cesar, who starred in films like the original "Ocean's 11" in 1960 and the 1939 comedy "The Little Princess," found renewed fame with his version of Gotham's cackling villain. Fun fact: Cesar refused to shave his trademark mustache for the role, so makeup artists just covered it with white face paint.
It might be a bit of a stretch to call this actor's "Gotham" character(s) the Joker, but in his role(s) as the deviant and demented twin brothers Jeremiah and Jerome Valeska, there are clear parallels (including that horrifying slash-mouthed smile) with our favorite criminal clown.
Cameron Monaghan is the talented actor behind the Joker-prototype characters Jerome and Jeremiah Valeska on the now-canceled sci-fi series "Gotham." In 2018, Cameron revealed on Twitter that the reason his characters were never given the Joker moniker was due to a decision from "high up," noting "they did not want to dilute a very lucrative brand." Cameron respected their choice (including their ban on him sporting all-green hair) saying, "It allowed for creativity on our end." Although Cameron's time on "Gotham" has come to an end, we can still catch him on our TV screens as Ian Gallagher on the dramatic comedy "Shameless."
You might not recognize the actor behind the voice of the Joker in the 2019 DC animated adventure "Batman: Hush" — which was adapted from the comic book series by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee — but chances are, you've heard him in many of your favorite animated shows, video games and movies.
Talented voice actor Jason Spisak played the role of the Joker in "Batman: Hush." Other places you've likely enjoyed his work include the animated TV shows "Spider-Man," "DC Superhero Girls" and "Young Justice," on which he's voiced a plethora of characters including Scorpion, Green Lantern and Kid Flash. He's also appeared on screen in films like "Everything Must Go" and "Time Lapse."
Speaking of the animated series "Young Justice," it wasn't voice actor Jason Spisak who played the role of the Joker in a 2011 episode of the long-running (and currently still on-air) show. Instead, it was a TV star best known for being a sentient android on the sci-fi series "Star Trek: The Next Generation."
Brent Spiner, perhaps better known as Lt. Commander Data from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and the big screen spin-off "Star Trek: First Contact," voiced the role of Joker in a 2011 episode of "Young Justice." Along with playing Batman's nemesis, Brent also voiced a different DC Comics villain, the Riddler, in a 2017 episode of the animated series "Justice League Action." In 2020, we'll get to see Brent on screen again when he reprises the role of Data on the series "Star Trek: Picard."
This beefed-up Joker from the animated movie "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 2" was voiced by an actor who once played a mysterious villain named Ben on the award-winning ABC drama "Lost."
Emmy-winning actor Michael Emerson made a devilishly good animated Joker in "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 2." Aside from playing Benjamin Linus on "Lost," Michael is also a talented stage actor who's appeared in numerous Broadway and off-Broadway productions including 2018's "Laramie: A Legacy." In 2019, Michael returned to the small screen as Abate Abbassano da Fossanova on the Italian thriller series "The Name of the Rose."
The voice actor behind this toothy Joker on the animated series "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" also lent his vocal talents to another highly popular cartoon character from 1997 to 2004.
You might better recognize Daytime Emmy-winning voice actor Jeff Bennett as the voice of the one and only "Johnny Bravo." Jeff lent his voice to the Joker on "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" from 2009 to 2011 and reprised the role once more in 2018 for the animated TV movie "Scooby-Doo & Batman: The Brave and the Bold." You can now hear Jeff as the voice of Bump Bumperman (and other characters) on the animated series "Blaze and the Monster Machines."
The actor who voiced this Joker on the series "The Batman" from 2004 to 2008 has also enjoyed other popular animated roles over the years, including as the hilarious voice of Cleveland Brown Jr. on "Family Guy" and "The Cleveland Show," among many others.
Emmy-nominated voice actor Kevin Michael Richardson is the vocal magician behind the Joker on the animated series "The Batman" and in the 2005 made-for-TV movie "The Batman vs. Dracula." Kevin, who's worked as a voice actor since 1992, has had no shortage of animated roles — he's played Captain Gantu on Disney's "Lilo & Stitch," both Groot and Heimdall on the "Guardians of the Galaxy" TV series, and Prime #2 in "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." Kevin's now voicing Crusher on the animated series "Blaze and the Monster Machines" and will lend his voice to the upcoming animated drama series "Invincible."