NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 14: John Lithgow attends "The Old Man" season 1 NYC Tastemaker Event at MOMA on June 14, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Mendez/WireImage)
Movies - TV
John Lithgow Purposefully Bombed His Joker Audition For Tim Burton's Batman
As great as Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix were as the Clown Prince of Crime, for some fans no one will ever match Jack Nicholson's iconic turn as the Joker in Tim Burton's 1989 film “Batman.” It’s hard to imagine then that John Lithgow was originally targeted for the role, but he intentionally sabotaged himself so that he wouldn’t be cast in the part.
Lithgow confessed to Vulture in 2017, “I have never told anyone this story, but I tried to persuade [Tim Burton] I was not right for the part, and I succeeded. I didn't realize it was such a big deal. About a week later I heard they were going after Robin Williams and Jack Nicholson.” It’s hard to blame Lithgow for not anticipating the cultural significance Burton’s film would have.
Lithgow ultimately came to regret the decision, as he admitted, “I was doing ‘M. Butterfly’ on Broadway and it was an exhausting show. It would have meant leaving that show and going right into a movie, and I said, ‘I just don't think I can.’ How about that for stupid? Actors are not necessarily smart people.” Fortunately, Lithgow has continued to enjoy a successful career.