From Joaquin Phoenix to Heath Ledger: A History of Joker Transformations

Five actors have portrayed DC Comics' clown prince villain, aka Batman's nemesis, in person on the big screen.

By Corinne Heller 03 Apr, 2019 7:34 PMTags
Joaquin Phoenix, The JokerWarner Bros. Pictures

With his leading role in the upcoming film JokerJoaquin Phoenix is the fifth actor to portray DC Comics' clown prince of crime, aka Batman's nemesis, in person on the big screen.

Todd Phillips' new movie explores the Joker's origin story. A trailer for Joker was released on Wednesday.

The remaining four actors to play the Joker on the big screen are the late Cesar Romero, who played him in a 1966 movie based on a hit live-action series, Jack Nicholson, who starred in Tim Burton's 1989 film Batman, the late Heath Ledger, who won a posthumous Oscar for his portrayal of the character in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, and Jared Leto, who played the role in David Ayer's 2016 film Suicide Squad.

In addition, Zach Galifianakis provided the voice of the Joker in the Lego Batman Movie, while several other actors, such as Star WarsMark Hamill, have portrayed the Joker on various Batman animated shows, as well as in video games.

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Batman Through the Years

See photos of actors who have portrayed the Joker over the years.

Cesar Romero

The actor played the character in the 1966 film Batman: The Movie, based on the hit live-action series.

Jack Nicholson

Nicholson set the bar when he played the Joker in Tim Burton's 1989 Batman film. Instead of the smudged makeup some fans have grown used to, he opted for a refined look when he starred alongside Michael Keaton's Batman.

Heath Ledger

In the final performance before his death, the Australian actor portrayed the villain in the 2007 film The Dark Knight. For his performance, the actor delved into the deep and twisted nature of the character, which earned him much praise from critics and fans alike. 

Jared Leto

Leto's performance as the Joker in the 2016 movie Suicide Squad totally reinvented the character, by introducing him with face tattoos and a mouth full of silver-capped teeth. 

Joaquin Phoenix

The actor dons the classic makeup and velvet suit in the 2019 movie Joker, which focuses on the character's origin story.

Cameron Monaghan

Monaghan got in touch with his dark side when he played the Joker in Fox's Gotham. The star once revealed in an interview with Jimmy Fallon that he drew inspiration from the fictional serial killer, Hannibal Lecter.

Zach Galifianakis

The actor portrayed the Joker in the 2017 animated film The Lego Batman Movie.

Mark Hamill

The actor portrayed the Joker in various animated projects, such as Batman: the Animated Series in the '90s.

Jeff Bennett

He portrayed the character in the 2008 animated series Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

John DiMaggio

He portrayed the Joker in the 2010 animated film Batman: Under the Red Hood.

Brent Spiner

Star Trek: The Next Generation's Data portrayed the Joker in the Young Justice animated series in 2010.

Michael Emerson

The LOST alum portrayed the Joker in The Dark Knight Returns animated movie in 2012.

Troy Baker

He portrayed the character in the 2013 video game Arkham: Origins.

Steve Blum

He portrayed the character in the Lego Batman: The Video Game in 2008.

Kevin Michael Richardson

He portrayed the Joker in the 2004 animated series The Batman.

The new film Joker is set for release on October 4.