Joaquin Phoenix to Be the Next Joker — Here's Every Actor Who's Played the Iconic Supervillain
Joaquin Phoenix—The Joker Origin Film (Date TBD)
Your favorite demented, maniacally homicidal jester is coming back to the big screen—and it’s not Jared Leto.
On July 10, Warner Bros confirmed that Joaquin Phoenix, 43, would be playing the Joker in the super villain’s new origin film set to begin production this upcoming September, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Though reports of Leto potentially working with the studio on a second Joker film have swirled, Warner Bros has yet to confirm any rumors.
The Her star, who won Best Actor award at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival for You Were Never Really Here will be the fifth star to embody the Joker on screen, with some relatively dark and talented shoes to fill. Click through to see every actor who’s ever played or voiced the Joker.
Zach Galifianakis / The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)
That’s right—the best-loved character in The Hangover series voiced the Clown Prince of Crime himself in the animated comedy spin, The LEGO Batman movie (2017).
Jack Galifianakis, 48, starred in the follow-up to 2014’s hit LEGO movie, a timely revival of DC fan’s spirits following the negative reception of Suicide Squad the previous year. Featuring a collection of non-stop action, Batsongs, jokes at previous films, and comically self-aware characters, the movie received a significant 90 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, breaking over $300 million at the box office.
The LEGO Batman movie sequel is set for February 8, 2019.
Jared Leto / Suicide Squad (2016)
In 2016, Academy Award-winning actor Jared Leto, 46, took a stab at DC’s esteemed supervillain, the first major onscreen debut since Heath Ledger’s performance in 2008’s The Dark Knight—an act critics agreed was tough to follow.
According to MTV News, the actor’s commitment to the part pervaded his off-screen behavior, “gifting” the cast and crew a plethora of vulgar items like used condoms, a dead pig, or a live rat.
Troy Baker / Arkham: Origins Video Game (2013)
Troy Baker, 42, is one of the only actors to have ever voiced both the Joker and his black-caped crusader, Batman. A prominent video game actor, Baker played the infamous antihero in the 2013 game Arkham: Origins.
Baker provided the voice of Two-Face and Robin in its 2012 prequel game Batman: Arkham City, and will be lending his voice to Batman in the upcoming sequel to LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes in 2019.
Michael Emerson / Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (2012)
Michael Emerson, 63, best known for his inscrutable role as Ben on the hit series Lost (2004-2010), plays an older, crazier joker determined to bring Bruce Wayne out of his retirement in the animated film, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (2012).
The Golden Globe nominee, who’s starred in films like Saw (2004) and Jumping of Bridges (2006) is no stranger to darker roles, finding it easier than some of his counterparts to access the character’s demented persona.
“I have to say that I don’t really have to search very far and wide to find a twisted or dangerous character,” the actor said in a video interview, “It’s actually harder for me to play untwisted."
Brent Spiner / Young Justice Series (2010)
In 2010, Brent Spiner, 69, took over as the jester of homicide in Cartoon Network’s animated TV series, Young Justice.
Spiner, best known for his role as Data in the Star Trek franchise voiced the Joker in the series centered on teenage superheroes like Robin and Superboy, intended to be the younger version of the famous adult Justice League.
Despite popular fan support, the show was cancelled in 2013 after its second season. However, Warner Bros announced its revival in 2016 with a third season, Young Justice: Outsiders, set for a 2019 release.
John DiMaggio / Batman: Under The Red Hood (2010)
Animation’s voice king John DiMaggio, 49, one of the industry’s most talented voice actors, took the reigns as Batman’s ultimate enemy in the animated film Batman: Under The Red Hood (2010).
Produced by Warner Bros, it became the eighth animated feature in the DC Superhero Universe. DiMaggio, better known as Bender from Futurama and Jake the Dog from Adventure Time, played the former Robin (Jason Todd)’s abductor and relentless torturer in the film.
Heath Ledger / The Dark Knight (2008)
In what was perhaps the most celebrated Joker portrayal of all time, Heath Ledger was posthumously awarded the Oscar for Best Actor following his performance in the critically acclaimed sequel to Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008).
Ledger died on January 22, 2008 after a toxicology report revealed a fatal mix of prescription drugs in his system. An avid method actor, he committed several weeks to getting into the mindset of the character. “I sat around in a hotel room in London for about a month, locked myself away, formed a little diary and experimented with voices,” he told Empire Online.
Steve Blum / Lego Batman: The Videogame (2008)
Since Steve Blum’s voice acting debut in 1992, he’s appeared in numerous video games, notably as Batman’s arch nemesis in 2008’s Lego Batman.
Blum, 58, has experience voicing other superhero villains like Lex Luthor, Spike from Cowboy Bebop (1998-2003) and Sub Zero from the Mortal Kombat (1992) games. In the video game, players navigate the Joker’s funhouse to stop him from releasing his toxic laughing gas.
Jeff Bennett / Batman: The Brave and The Bold (2008)
Jeff Bennett, 55, best known for the voice of the mid 90s animated series Johnny Bravo (1997-2004), took on an alternate version of the typical animated DC Universe film adaptations.
In Batman: The Brave and The Bold, the characters’ designs were modeled after those from the 60s era, creating a lighter-hearted tone throughout the movie, better suited toward younger audiences.
Kevin Michael Richardson / The Batman (2004)
The Joker, played by 53-year-old veteran voice actor Kevin Michael Richardson, turns up with a radically changed look and an eerie new laugh.
Richardson, who voiced Lex Luthor in the 1992 DC Animated Universe and Cleveland Brown in The Cleveland Show (2009), told GeekMom that the Joker was his favorite character to play. “He was like a crazy sick sandwich. He had his highs and lows and the laugh, I almost passed out every time doing that laugh, but I would love to do it again,” he said.
Mark Hamill / Batman the Animated Series (1992)
Of all the actors that have filled the Joker’s evil and maniacal shoes, Mark Hamill has done it the longest.
Kicking off the DC Animated Universe with his first appearance in the Emmy-nominated Batman the Animated Series (1992), Hamill has since gone on to star in adaptations of The Justice League and Superman.
Following his retirement announcement in 2011, he briefly reprised his role in the 2016 adaptation of Batman's "The Killing Joke" story, marking his 25-year anniversary with the character.
Jack Nicholson / Batman (1989)
Academy Award winner Jack Nicholson, 81, played the Joker in Tim Burton’s 1989 adaptation of the comic book. In 2007, Nicholson told MTV his acceptance of the role stemmed from his confidence and admiration of Burton’s vision as well as his direction.
"Tim Burton's a genius. He had the right take on it. That's why I did the movie," he said. "I did the movie based on a single conversation with him. We both come from the cartoon world originally. We had similar ideas."
Cesar Romero / The Batman Series (1966)
The original Joker, Cesar Romero, was known for his acting and singing skills well before playing the iconic character in the first of the caped vigilante films, Batman: The Movie (1966).
Adam West, the actor playing Batman, said that Romero “brought an enormous amount of energy to the role,” in the A&E documentary series Biography, adding, “I don't know how he did it." Romero, however, found the performance relatively easy: "When [you] get in an outfit like that...you fall right into it,” he said in the same special.