Warner Bros. Pictures has finished production on the first ever standalone Joker movie, titled “Joker,” starring award winning actor Joaquin Phoenix and directed by Academy Award nominee Todd Phillips, set to be released in October.
When discussing notorious comic book villains within the Marvel or DC universes, the Joker is typically involved. The DC universe super-villain has been portrayed in both animated and live-action productions by some the most talented actors in Hollywood.
The question still remains however, who is the best Joker? According to an online ranking by the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), the top two Jokers are animated.
Mark Hamill in “Batman: The Animated Series” (1992-2016) at No. 1 and Troy Baker in the videogames “Batman: Arkham Origins” (2013) and “Batman: Arkham Knight” (2015) at No. 2.
But it takes more than a voice to truly embody the DC comics’ most infamous villain on the big screen.
The first actor to portray the Joker on the big screen was Cesar Romero in 1966. Romero’s white-faced, green-haired, cackling portrayal paved the way for following actors.
After Romero, Academy Award-winning actor Jack Nicholson took on the role in 1989’s “Batman.” Various critics believe Nicholson’s overly illustrated smile and aggressively fiendish behavior as the Joker is one of the greatest performances in film.
Certainly, there have been impactful impressions of Batman’s arch nemesis but there is no performance more chilling and real than Heath Ledger’s live-action depiction in “The Dark Knight” (2008).
Ledger, a method actor, spent an extended period of time preparing for his role as the Joker. He reportedly locked himself away in a dark room for up to six weeks at a time experimenting with voices and characters and carrying only a diary of his inspirations and thoughts.
During this time he independently developed the frightening, “Why so serious,” dialogue that grabbed the audience and stapled his legacy as DC’s most prominent Joker.
According to the Daily News, Ledger only got about two hours of sleep a night during his iconic role.
Ledger is quoted in the media as saying that when playing “a psychopathic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy, I couldn’t stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going.”
Unfortunately, following the film, Ledger was found dead from an overdose of various narcotics sought to remedy his sleeplessness and emotional pain.
In 2009, Ledger was posthumously awarded the Oscar for best supporting actor. According to IMDb, Ledger’s performance remains the greatest ever live-action performance.
The upcoming film “Joker” will have high expectations, especially following Jared Leto’s controversially disappointing performance in “Suicide Squad” (2016).
IMDb reports “Joker” is about a failed stand-up comedian who is driven insane and becomes a psychopathic murderer.
Co-starring award-winning actor Robert De Niro, the film looks to tap into the dark methodical psychopathy that is the Joker’s character.
Director Phillips is no stranger to creating box office success. Phillips’s most notable work includes all three “Hangover” movies (2009, 2011, and 2013) and “War Dogs” (2016). With all of this Hollywood firepower, fans are still skeptical but excited for the release.
The Coast Report ran polls over the past two weeks asking for respondent’s favorite Joker portrayals.
For live action, Ledger’s performance in 2008 is the overwhelming favorite and for animation, Hamil’s long run as the Joker on televison.