Regret: Star reveals he turned down Joker offer

Publish Date
Wednesday, 14 June 2017, 1:26PM

Jack Nicholson's portrayal of the Joker in Batman was universally praised by critics with The Hollywood Reporter writing at the time, "It is difficult to imagine any other actor performing this character as well".

But Nicholson wasn't director Tim Burton's first preference to play the villain in the 1989 movie, according to John Lithgow.

The 3rd Rock from the Sun star told Vulture that he was originally offered the role but turned it down, a career move he thoroughly regrets.

"I have never told anyone this story, but I tried to persuade him [Tim Burton] I was not right for the part, and I succeeded," Lithgow said.

"I didn't realise it was such a big deal. About a week later I heard they were going after Robin Williams and Jack Nicholson."

And Lithgow is spot on. The producers did indeed chat to Robin Williams about playing the Joker but they had an ulterior motive for doing so.

As Comic Book Legends Revealed wrote in 2014, they approached Williams "only to compel Jack Nicholson into taking the role ... It worked, as Nicholson quickly signed on after they started talks with Williams".

Williams was a huge Batman fan and he was understandably angry about being used as a pawn in negotiations.

Speaking to Empire in 2010, Williams said: "The Batman films have screwed me twice before. Years ago they offered me the Joker and then gave it to Jack Nicholson, then they offered me the Riddler and gave it to Jim Carrey."

Both Lithgow and Williams missed out on a huge payday. Jack Nicholson was paid $6 million for playing the Joker but also negotiated a percentage of the film's profits and merchandise sales.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Nicholson eventually walked away with more than $50 million.