Mark Hamill is reflecting on how Michael Keaton tore down typecasting for the “Batman” superhero films.
Hamill, who voiced The Joker in the critically acclaimed TV show “Batman: The Animated Series,” reflected on Keaton’s casting in Tim Burton’s live-action 1989 “Batman” movie during a Wired video interview (below).
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“I had a confidence that really helped me, because there was this big outcry that Michael Keaton was going to play Batman,” Hamill recalled of auditioning for the voice-acting role. “‘Oh he’s Mr. Mom, he’s a comedy actor.’ I mean they hadn’t even seen him, and they didn’t realize how great he would become. But there was great controversy.”
The “Star Wars” icon continued, “So when I went in, I thought, ‘You think they’re going to hire Luke Skywalker to play the Joker? The fans will lose their minds!’ I was so sure that I couldn’t be cast, I was completely relaxed. A lot of times there’s performance anxiety because you want the part; here I knew I couldn’t get the part, so, who cares? And I drove out of the parking lot thinking, ‘That’s the best Joker they’ll ever hear, and it’s too bad they can’t cast me.'”
When Hamill landed the role, he added, “I was like, ‘Oh no, I can’t do this!'”
Yet Hamill called playing the Joker one of the best characters “because he’s insane, and because he’s insane, he’s never boring. It’s just fun to play a character who creates chaos everywhere he goes.”
Keaton previously revealed he turned down continuing to play the Caped Crusader in Joel Schumacher’s “Batman Forever” after director Burton parted ways with the franchise over the “dark” “Batman Returns” film.
“But I remember one of the things that I walked away going, ‘Oh boy, I can’t do this,'” Keaton said of meeting with Schumacher. “He asked me, ‘I don’t understand why everything has to be so dark and everything so sad,’ and I went, ‘Wait a minute, do you know how this guy got to be Batman? Have you read… I mean, it’s pretty simple.’”
Keaton continued of how he approached playing the complicated superhero, “To me, I know the name of the movie is Batman, and it’s hugely iconic and very cool and cultural iconic and because of Tim Burton, artistically iconic, [but] I knew from the get-go it was Bruce Wayne. That was the secret. I never talked about it. [Everyone would say] Batman, Batman, Batman does this, and I kept thinking to myself, ‘Y’all are thinking wrong here.’ [It’s all about] Bruce Wayne. What kind of person does that? Who becomes that?”
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