In most cases, for most actors, typecasting can be a curse, a trap to be avoided. This is understandable, especially for actors who have either been trained on stage or have a natural affinity for character parts and don't wish to keep playing the same type of role over and over again.
Yet typecasting can also be a boon for an actor in many ways. For one thing, it can be a sort of job security, particularly within television or franchise filmmaking, as the "sell" of the actor in a role is more or less already done for them by their successful past work. For another, it allows the actor a sort of safety net, a proven track record that they can fall back on. Thus, they can feel free to take risks, knowing they already have an established screen persona.
Mark Hamill discovered the latter scenario when he auditioned for the part of The Joker in "Batman: The Animated Series" in the early '90s. At the time the series was being put together, Hamill was still primarily known as Luke Skywalker from the original "Star Wars" trilogy, and those movies being some of the biggest films of all time certainly kept him typecast in that role. Although Hamill thought the Joker audition was pointless due to that typecasting, he went for broke nonetheless, giving an audition that won him the role and broke his Luke typecasting for good.
'I Knew I Couldn't Get The Part, So Who Cares?'
Hamill's certainty that his past success as Luke Skywalker would block him from landing the Joker role didn't have anything to do with his ability or skill. Instead, he was convinced he'd never get the part due to assuming that Bat-fans wouldn't want him in the role. Ironically, that belief gave him the confidence to give a knockout audition. As he told WIRED in a recent interview:
"I had a confidence that really helped me, because there was this big outcry that Michael Keaton was gonna play Batman. 'Oh, he's 'Mr. Mom,' he's a comedy actor.' I mean, they hadn't even seen him and they didn't realize how great he would become. But there was great controversy. So when I went in I thought, 'You think they're gonna hire Luke Skywalker to play the Joker? The fans will lose their minds.' I was so sure that I couldn't be cast. I was completely relaxed. A lot of times there's performance anxiety 'cuz you want the part. Here, I knew I couldn't get the part, so who cares? And I drove out of the parking lot thinking, 'That's the best Joker they'll ever hear. And it's too bad they can't cast me.'"
The joke, in fact, turned out to be on Hamill in the best way. As is typical of an actor's neuroses, finding out he got the part caused Hamill to do a 180 on his self-confidence, recalling that he thought to himself, "Oh no, I can't do this" when the news broke, and almost turning down the part. Fortunately, the allure of playing the role caused that self-doubt to dissipate rapidly, and Hamill went on to voice the character for not only the entirety of the series' run but off and on for several decades.
Nobody Tricks The Trickster
Ironically, as a near direct result of his success as The Joker in "Batman: The Animated Series," Hamill is now typecast as a consummate voice actor, with his return to appearing on camera as Luke Skywalker in "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" and other recent Lucasfilm projects being the exception rather than the norm. Although his career in animation started way before Joker — Hamill did eight episodes of "The New Scooby-Doo Movies" in the early '70s and a voice in Ralph Bakshi's "Wizards" in 1977 — it really took off after he became known in the part. Later in the WIRED interview, Hamill admits he does so much animation work that he'll be watching a cartoon and be surprised at the sound of his own voice.
However, it's possible that Hamill landing the role of The Joker wasn't as random and unexpected as he seemed to think it was when auditioning. About a year and change before appearing as The Joker in the animated series, Hamill guest-starred in two episodes of CBS's "The Flash" as The Trickster, a character that was also pulled from the pages of DC Comics. Just as "The Flash" itself was a thinly-veiled attempt to capitalize on the style and vibes of Tim Burton's 1989 "Batman," The Trickster had much in common with that movie's depiction of The Joker (as played by Jack Nicholson). Hamill's performance as The Trickster is very, very close to his later work as The Joker, enough that his later lack of confidence in himself when landing the Joker part seems highly unwarranted.
Ultimately, Hamill's versatility as an actor on and off camera proved how savvy he was when navigating the peaks and pitfalls of typecasting, proving that with the right mindset, opportunity, and talent, an actor needn't ever feel trapped by typecasting.
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The post Mark Hamill Was Certain Star Wars Would Block Him From Being Cast As The Joker appeared first on /Film.