Mark Hamill Took The Jim Carrey Approach To His Performances As Batman's Joker

Though we sadly lost Kevin Conroy in 2022, his legacy as the definitive Batman voice actor is well and truly established. Conroy was part of the reason Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski's "Batman: The Animated Series" was as influential as it was. But it wasn't just his input that gave the show its enduring appeal. Aside from reimagining Batman for a whole new generation in the '90s, "Batman: TAS" is noteworthy for introducing Mark Hamill's Joker.

Hamill was so good in the role he turned a quick cameo into a career playing the Clown Prince of Crime. And quite the career it's been. The "Star Wars" actor has become just as well known for his Joker portrayal across the DC Animated Universe and beyond as he has for playing Luke Skywalker. His name is synonymous with the animated version of Batman's greatest foe, to the extent it seems absurd that at one point Hamill considered saying no to playing The Joker in "Batman: The Animated Series."

As voice director Andrea Romano told "His timing was right on, he came up with this terrifying voice and an iconic laugh and I think that's the voice everybody hears when they think of The Joker. Even when they're seeing on camera performances, they can't help but reference Mark Hamill in their minds."

So swept up in his role was Hamill, that he basically became The Joker in the recording booth, and Conroy had an interesting take on his expressive performances.

'His face is like rubber'

Thanks to Andrea Romano, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill recorded almost all their dialogue together, allowing them to play off one another and enhance their overall performances. The voice director was incredibly actor-friendly and knew getting the two stars together would work for the show, leading to Conroy and Hamill developing a rule that they had to be in the same room for recording sessions. It's not surprising then, that once Conroy passed, Hamill seemed to suggest he wouldn't be getting in the booth as Joker again, telling Empire (via ScreenRant): "We were like partners. We were like Laurel and Hardy. Without Kevin there, there doesn't seem to be a Batman for me."

And it seems Conroy was equally enamored with his co-star. As he told The World's Finest: "That Batman/Joker relationship, it's almost like Joker defines Batman and Batman defines Joker. It's the dark and the light. Sometimes it feels like either of us wouldn't exist completely without the other. And Mark and I work so well together."

But Conroy appreciated more than Hamill's ability to enhance his own performance. Specifically, he was impressed by the way in which his co-star would embody The Joker during recording sessions — likening him to Jim Carrey and his animated presence. He continued:

"Mark becomes the Joker. I wish the audience could see him in the booth. His face is like rubber, and it's like Jim Carrey, you know, he just becomes the character. And he's, like, devouring the microphone. And when I'm doing Batman I get very kind of dark and broody, you know? It's weird how we both inhabit the characters while in the room. It's kind of fun."

Hamill made The Joker his own

If there's one actor known for having a rubber face, it's Jim Carrey. In fact, he co-starred in "Rubberface" — a 1981 made-for-TV movie that was originally titled "Introducing... Janet" that had its title changed for the home video release after Carrey became a superstar in the '90s and audiences became familiar with his famously elastic visage. His first TV appearance, where he runs through a stunning array of impressions, is a perfect example of his unique ability to convey humor using just his face, and his "The Mask" director commented on Carrey's "extremely mobile face" after shooting the movie.

That visage was put to good use in "Batman Forever," in which Carrey gave a characteristically over-the-top Riddler performance that worked beautifully within Joel Schumacher's neon-lit Gotham. Tommy Lee Jones famously wasn't a fan of his co-star's "buffoonery" in the movie, but there's no doubt Carrey gave a memorable performance, even managing to portray a genuine creepiness between the "buffoonery" as Riddler's alter ego, Edward Nigma. But it was his physicality that stood out most, and it seems Kevin Conroy saw some of the same in Mark Hamill.

Luckily, we can see both Hamill and Conroy in the booth. YouTube is full of examples of the pair doing their thing, like this example of them recording lines for the "Arkham City" video game. Sadly, the pair won't ever be side by side in studio again but they provided so many classic moments over their years of recording together. And while Hamill certainly demonstrated a similar dedication to his Joker role to that of Carrey with The Riddler, there's no doubt he made that performance uniquely his own.