With this summer's Suicide Squad looking set to reinforce The Joker's status as the world's premier villain, it's no surprise that arguably the most acclaimed Joker-starring story of all time is heading to the DC Animated Universe. After all, Batman: The Killing Joke is still an astonishingly popular story nearly three decades after its release, and with there evidently being no plans to adapt the story for the big screen, an animated movie makes a lot of sense.
The really good news, though? Mark "The Joker" Hamill and Kevin "Batman" Conroy are set to reprise the voice roles they've been acing ever since 1992's Batman: The Animated Series. Which is clearly cause for some kind of celebration.
We've already taken a look at how Conroy is basically just a real-life Batman, so it only seems right to spend some time with Hamill, and to take a look at how...
...The Story Behind Mark Hamill's Joker Is Stranger Than You'd Think
For one thing...
...Hamill Didn't Think He Had Any Chance Of Getting The Part
Indeed, as he told a recent Reddit AMA:
"'I thought no way would they have the person that played Luke Skywalker cast as the Joker – they are the quintessential extremes of good and evil. So I just assumed they wouldn’t hire me so I went in with no apprehension. I had been doing Amadeus on Broadway for the year. And so I was experimenting with that laugh for Amadeus and I brought it to the Joker audition and it player really well. I felt cocky when I left and thought 'That’s the best Joker they are every going to hear – too bad they can’t hire me.' And then two weeks later when they called and said I got the job I immediately lost my confidence. And then my friend told me you’re pretty brave. And I said why is that? And he said I wouldn’t want to follow Jack Nicholson on anything. And then I got even more scared. But fear is a great motivator."
...Hamill's Been Doing This For A Long Time Now
Twenty-four years to be fair, in which time he's played The Joker in multiple Batman and Justice League animated series, as well as the acclaimed Arkham games.
In fact, Hamill's been playing The Joker for so long that he's already retired from the role a handful of times, only to be drawn back in by the apparently un-refusable allure of Mistah J.
Which might just have something to do with the fact that...
...Hamill Has A Very Particular Way Of Playing The Joker
Specifically, he reportedly tends to play the villain standing up (while everyone else in the voice-recording session sits) in order to better feel the emotions — and, presumably, to help bring the villain's chaotic energy to the screen.
Hamill's favorite memory of playing The Joker, though? Well, that comes from his time working on Arkham City. As he told that same Reddit AMA:
"I got to sing a really creepy version of 'Only You', a capella. That wasn’t something I expected to do as Joker – sing a song. But the Joker is never boring to me because he’s crazy. And if you’re crazy, you are unpredictable and you never do anything the same way. I was surprised how much I loved playing that role."
Quick, somebody get a Hamill-starring Joker musical commissioned.
...Hamill's Joker Had Two Unusual Inspirations For The Part
Rumor has it that Hamill's performance as The Joker was actually inspired less by the comic book villain (who obviously had no audible voice), but rather by two unusual figures: Hannibal Lecter, as played by Anthony Hopkins, and Jerry Lewis, the beloved comedian.
Which actually explains a lot.
...Hamill Has Been A Whole Lot More Than Just The Joker
Heck, even if you put his film roles (*cough* Luke Skywalker *cough*) aside, his superhero-themed voice-acting work over the years is basically a who's who of cartoon villainy.
On the Marvel end of the comic book spectrum, he's played Hobgoblin on the '90s Spider-Man animated series, Maximus on the Fantastic Four ill-fated animated show, Gargoyle on The Incredible Hulk, Klaw on Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes and a whole bunch of characters on Ultimate Spider-Man.
Meanwhile, for DC, he's played The Trickster both on screen in The Flash and on Justice League, as well as voicing Solomon Grundy, Tony Zucco, Sinestro and The Spectre in various projects.
And yet, to most fans, he'll always be The Joker (and Luke Skywalker, natch).