Although Star Wars legend Mark Hamill is the best known animated version of the Joker from Batman: The Animated Series, it turns out that he wasn't always the first choice of actor to provide the vocals of the Clown Prince of Crime.
For as long as there has been Batman on our screens, there has always been The Joker - and the cartoon take on Gotham City is no exception. The most famous voice actor to play the part is Hamill, who first took the part during 1992's Batman: The Animated Series and went on to play Mr. J in the likes of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, and Rocksteady's Arkham games. Across that run he's become regarded as one of the best performers to take on the role.
Speaking at this year's San Diego Comic-Con to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Mask of the Phantasm (via Comic Book), animation veteran Bruce Timm revealed that IT alumni Tim Curry originally recorded lines for the Joker - much to the disappointment of Hamill:
"He [Hamill] was so excited and full of enthusiasm for Batman. He’s a huge comic book fan and he really wanted to play one of the big villains at that time and he specifically mentioned The Joker, and at that time we were using Tim Curry as the Joker."
Perhaps Curry just has an affinity for playing deranged clowns, but sadly, his time as Joker wasn't a particularly long one. Before The Animated Series ever made it to air, Timm and co. made the tough decision to recast the part:
"He [Hamill] was really disappointed and he said, ‘well, if anybody else shows up like Hugo Strange or somebody, give me a call.’ So many months later we made the difficult decision to replace Tim and we brought Mark in to audition for The Joker and he nailed it.”
Hamill had originally voiced corrupt businessman Ferris Boyle in the first Mr. Freeze episode "Heart of Ice," but it was clear he always had aspirations to play The Joker. When studio execs wanted Curry out in favor of something "new," Hamill was the obvious choice, and they haven't looked back since.
Since the introduction of The Animated Series, Hamill has become synonymous with the chuckling madman almost as much as he is Luke Skywalker. He most recently played the part in last year's Batman: The Killing Joke. Who knows how much longer Hamill will keep playing The Joker, but it's fair to say he's left an indelible impact.
Source: Comic Book