Mark Hamill Tries To Reinvent The Joker Every Time He Plays The Villain

The Joker is arguably the most iconic superhero villain of all time, a character serving as a mirror opposite of Batman, capable of both terrorizing audiences and making them laugh — often at the same time. This character has resulted in many incredible performances in film and television (even video games), as well as a handful of questionable incarnations. 

Just as everyone has their preferred Dark Knight, fans also have their favorite Joker, and one name that comes up frequently is Mark Hamill. In addition to being Luke Skywalker, the actor has had a rather prolific and acclaimed career in voice acting, and has played several incarnations of Joker for 30 years and counting. What makes his performance special is how versatile it is, with Hamill giving us many different versions of the Joker, even if the character hasn't technically changed at all.

'I try to play him like I'd never played him before'

Hamill first played the character in the "Batman: the Animated Series" episode "Christmas With the Joker," (though the episode "Joker's Favor" made it to air first). Hamill got the job after auditioning for the part using a voice inspired by the Blue Meanies from "Yellow Submarine," and since then, he's played the character in everything from shows like "Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?" and "Robot Chicken," to the "Batman: Arkham" video game series (above), and many more animated appearances.

Speaking to Rotten Tomatoes about his many voice roles, Hamill described his approach to the character as being as wild as the Joker origin stories:

"First of all, I try to play him like I'd never played him before. And then you would look at the script, and it would call for different things. There was an episode where Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy team up, sort of a Thelma and Louise, so the Joker's left at home shuffling around in the house, you know? So in that instance, he was used for a kind of pathetic comedy. So, like you say, every project is different. That's what keeps it fresh and interesting."

'He's probably like a spice'

The thing about Joker is that he's more of a malleable mold that different filmmakers and artists can shape into whatever they need for that particular story. Though a variety of actors have given us different portrayals of Batman, the character has remained relatively static in terms of personality in film. Meanwhile, the Joker has been transformed massively across the years. Within Hamill's tenure alone, the character has been portrayed as a clown, a savvy crime lord, a psychopathic killer, and everything in between. He's as campy and funny as Cesar Romero, and as threatening as Jack Nicholson, often simultaneously.

As the actor told The Wall Street Journal:

"When you look at the script it's like the first time every time. And you look at the script and you go, 'How is the Joker used in this particular script?' And it's all over the board, the colors they use him for. He's probably like a spice, a very distinctive spice. If you add too much of it, it'll probably make you slightly nauseous. But you crave it when you don't have it. That's what the Joker is like for me. I never expected it to have such peaks and valleys and a career all its own."

Times may change, Gotham may change, but if there is one thing we can count on, it's Mark Hamill being a perfect Joker every single time.