Actor Mark Hamill, best known for portraying Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars saga, is also well-known to Batman fans for voicing many appearances of the Dark Knight’s archenemy, the Joker — but Hamill wasn’t the creative teams’ first choice: they wanted Tim Curry of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Stephen King’s It fame.
“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,” said DC Animation veteran Bruce Timm during a San Diego Comic Con panel promoting Batman: Mask of the Phantasm’s Blu-ray release. “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.”
And, as the saying goes, the rest is history.
An accomplished voice actor, Hamill has voiced several iterations of the Joker since Batman: The Animated Series’ debut in 1992. Beyond Batman: The Animated Series and its followup series The New Batman Adventures and Justice League, Hamill has served as the Clown Prince of Crime’s voice for Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham video game trilogy, heavily inspired by the Bruce Timm Batman works, as well as animated feature length movies Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. Most recently, Hamill returned to lend Mr. J his voice in the straight-to-video animated adaptation of one of the most famous Bat stories of all time, Batman: The Killing Joke.
An avid comic book fan, Hamill most recently revealed he would have liked to have portrayed the Vulture in Marvel Studios’ Spider-Man: Homecoming, a role that went to Michael Keaton. “There’s not a lot of villainous roles for senior citizens, so I had my eyes on the Vulture,” Hamill said. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, starring Kevin Conroy as Batman and Hamill as the Joker, released to Blu-ray on July 25th. Hamill can next be seen (in live-action) in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, in theaters December 15th.