Sean Penn has said that if Christopher Nolan ever considered him for the role of the Joker in The Dark Knight, it was never mentioned to him. The ending of Batman Begins teased the arrival of the Joker in the next entry, with names such as Adrian Brody, Crispin Glover and Paul Bettany being linked to the character. Nolan surprised everyone by casting Heath Ledger instead, which was met with some fan backlash at the time.
Ledger tragically passed away before The Dark Knight's release, and his terrifying performance as the character became instantly iconic, and he received a posthumous Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. It's hard to imagine another actor playing that role now, but for years it’s been suggested Sean Penn was actually Nolan's first choice, but he turned it down.
It seems that wasn't the case because, in a new interview on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Penn says that while he's been offered big movies over the years, The Dark Knight wasn't one of them.
I don't recall that. If he did, he never told me himself. Between the indelible one that Jack [Nicholson] did, and then when Heath Ledger came along and made it a new kind of rock and roll. Listen, yes, over the years I've been offered a couple of things that became extremely successful genre pictures, and in most cases when I looked at them I think we me in it, they would not have been extremely successful genre pictures.
For the most part, Penn has tended to avoid blockbusters throughout his career, and while he no doubt would have brought a unique interpretation to the character, it's again hard to picture any actor but Ledger.
The Joker was finally brought to the big screen again in 2016 with Jared Leto's take in Suicide Squad, which was met with a more divisive reception. Some fans liked Leto's gangster take on the villain, while others found his turn obnoxious. The Joker's part in the film proved controversial after release since trailers and promo material made it look like the character had a prominent role, but in the final edit, the character only has around 10 minutes of screentime. Leto has also stated he was surprised by how much material was cut.
There's still no word on when – or if – Leto will return, but in the meantime, Warner Bros. is developing a one-off, R-rated take on the Joker from director Todd Philips. Joaquin Phoenix is currently considered the favorite for the role, though in a recent interview he denied knowing of its existence. Tommy Wiseau is also running a tongue-in-cheek campaign to claim the role, but it feels like Warner Bros would probably favor Phoenix is this case.
Source: Happy Sad Confused
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