Celebrity Facts

17 Famous Actors Who Almost Played the Joker 

Jacob Shelton
5.8k votes 915 voters 38.2k views 17 items

List Rules A list of notable people who were (somewhat) close to playing the Joker. Vote up the ones you would love to see play the role.

In every superhero movie, villains seem to have the most fun. And no villain has more fun that Batman’s arch nemesis the Joker. It’s an iconic role that seems to offer a blessing and a curse to everyone who touches it, but that hasn’t stopped a tidal wave of actors from campaigning to put themselves in the middle of a Joker-Batman sandwich. The actors who almost played the Joker are astounding, either by their sheer amount of talent, or just by how big they are in Hollywood, and some of the people who auditioned for the role will definitely surprise you. Take a break from working on your Heath Ledger impression to check out the actors who almost played the Joker.

In order to play the Joker from Batman, an actor has to fully lose themselves in the character, and bring something completely new to the role. Every Joker actor since Caesar Romero has brought something wholly unique to the character, and it ended up defining their career. And after all, who wouldn’t want to be a part of a lineage that included Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamill, and Heath Ledger? Most of the actors who were in the running to play Joker are interesting in their own way, and it would be cool to know how they would have changed the history of the character.

Vote on the actors who you would have loved to see play this iconic role, and if you think there’s an actor that should be in consideration to play the Joker - tell us about it in the comments.  

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Robin Williams is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list 17 Famous Actors Who Almost Played the Joker
Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Robin Williams has a love-hate relationship with the Batman franchise, the Joker, and Warner Bros. in general. The trouble began when he was offered the part for 1985's Batman when Jack Nicholson balked at signing a contract. When Williams agreed to the play the character WB immediately told Nicholson about it, which led him to finally agree to play the part. Williams was pissed about being used as leverage and he didn't work with Warner Bros. again until they apologized for their iffy behavior. 

Age: Dec. at 63 (1951-2014)

Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America

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Crispin Glover is one of America's greatest creative minds, but even he knew that the online chatter about his audition for the Joker in The Dark Knight was mostly hogwash. Even though he could have brought his magnificently dark energy to the role, at the time, Glover didn't have the star power of some of the other actors up for the part. 

Age: 54

Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America

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Adrien Brody is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list 17 Famous Actors Who Almost Played the Joker
Photo:  PAN Photo Agency/Shutterstock

All poor little Adrien Brody wants to do is play the Joker. He almost had the part in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, and he admits that Ledger was "tremendous" in the film. But his green haired aspirations didn't die with that film. As recently as 2014 he was still lobbying to play the part in the mysterious Justice League film.

Brody said, "I would do it if I feel I can contribute something valuable and that the role would be interesting to me. To me, the villains are way fun! But [studios] don’t offer me those roles. If there is an opportunity to do something like that and play a comic book hero or villain, that’s not something I’m fundamentally opposed to."

Age: 42

Birthplace: Woodhaven, New York City, New York, United States of America

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Paul Bettany is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list 17 Famous Actors Who Almost Played the Joker
Photo: Metaweb (FB)/Fair use

If you dare to remember the brief period of time before everyone knew that Heath Ledger was the definitive version of the Joker, there was actually a group of people who think that Christopher Nolan made a huge tactical error by not casting Paul Bettany for the role.          ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Age: 47

Birthplace: England, London

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