Jack Nicholson Thought He Should Have Been The Dark Knight's Joker

Few things in pop culture get the people as mad as superhero movies. In particular casting news for superhero movies really throws fans into a tizzy, especially if it's for a Batman movie. Whether it's Robert Pattinson, Ben Affleck, Heath Ledger or even Michael Keaton, if it's Bat-related, you can never please everyone.

When Heath Ledger, the heartthrob star of "10 Things I Hate About You" and "A Knight's Tale" got cast as the Joker in "The Dark Knight," one person got particularly angry about the news — Jack Nicholson. Okay, he didn't actually get angry, but he certainly wished he had another opportunity to flash that maniacal smile.

The legendary Oscar-winning star of "The Shining" redefined the Clown Prince of Crime for a whole new generation with his portrayal of Jack Napier in Tim Burton's "Batman." Of course, that meant Nicholson was 71 when "The Dark Knight" was released, but that didn't stop him from thinking he should have been allowed to return to the part as the first septuagenarian Joker.

'It's a part I always thought I should play'

Just like Michael Keaton's performance was a huge departure from the delightfully campy and fun 1966 "Batman," Nicholson's performance was also much darker, in order to stand out as different from Cesar Romero's over the top clown from the classic series. In a recently unearthed behind-the-scenes look at the making of 1989's "Batman," Nicholson said he specifically wanted to avoid brightening the character for kids. On the contrary, he wanted to scare them, saying, "The more you scare them, the more they like it."

Nicholson also must have realized he didn't want anyone else to scare the children, because when MTV interviewed him before the release of "The Dark Knight," Nicholson somewhat playfully fired off at the mention of Heath Ledger's then-upcoming portrayal.

"Let me be the way I'm not in interviews. I'm furious. I'm furious," Nicholson said, laughing at himself, unfortunately not while waving a ludicrously long gun that shoots a little flag that says "BANG!" Nicholson went on, "They never asked me about a sequel with the Joker. I know how to do that! Nobody ever asked me."

To be fair, there is a reason for that. Spoilers for the 33-year old "Batman" film from Tim Burton: The Joker falls off a building and dies in the 1989 "Batman," so he could not return for a sequel (though if it were possible anywhere, it would be in comic book movies). Still, Nicholson is not impressed by the laws of physics. When asked if he was given a change to return, he said. 

"No. It's like, in any area, you can't believe the reasons things do or don't happen. Not asking me how to do the sequel is that kind of thing. Maybe it's not a mistake. Maybe it was the right thing, but to be candid, I'm furious."

But not as furious as he is about missing out on another possible Oscar-winning role in "The Dark Knight," a role he seemed very competitive about. Nicholson explained, "The Joker comes from my childhood. That's how I got involved with it in the first place. It's a part I always thought I should play."

Now, all jokes aside, the very idea of Nicholson stepping off his giant yacht, walking up to Christopher Nolan and demanding to be cast in "The Dark Knight" is hilarious. Even funnier is the idea of 71-year-old Nicholson playing Joker (either young or old) opposite Christian Bale, and terrorizing Gotham in-between going to Lakers games.

Now, someone please ask him what he thought of Barry Keoghan's take on the Joker.