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John Lithgow Almost Played the Joker in Tim Burton’s BATMAN

For years, the producers of Tim Burton‘s Batman movie have said that Jack Nicholson was the perfect choice to play the Joker in the ’80s. While Nicholson’s performance in the role was quite good, he wasn’t the only legendary actor up for the part. John Lithgow has revealed that he was also in the running for the Joker, and he regrets not getting the part.

While speaking with Vulture, Lithgow admitted that his “worst audition was for Tim Burton for Batman,” before adding that he has never previously shared this story: “I tried to persuade [Burton] I was not right for the part, and I succeeded. I didn’t realize it was such a big deal. About a week later I heard they were going after Robin Williams and Jack Nicholson.”

Batman-Joker-Burton

According to Lithgow, that was actually his second chance to play the Joker. His first opportunity was when director Joe Dante attempted to cast him in an earlier attempt at Batman that predated Burton’s involvement. “I was doing M. Butterfly on Broadway and it was an exhausting show,” Lithgow recalled. “It would have meant leaving that show and going right into a movie, and I said, ‘I just don’t think I can.’ How about that for stupid? Actors are not necessarily smart people.”

Could Lithgow have pulled off the Joker? Absolutely. His comedic skills have been on display in many of his roles in TV and film, but he was never more terrifying than in the third season of Dexter as Arthur Mitchel a.k.a. the Trinity killer. While it’s unlikely that Burton or Dante would have allowed Lithgow to go that dark with his Joker, Trinity demonstrated that he can be a very effective villain. It may be too late for Lithgow to play the Joker in live-action, but he would still be an asset in any movie, comic book-inspired or otherwise.

What do you think about John Lithgow’s near miss with the Joker? Let us know in the comment section below!

Images: Showtime/Warner Bros. Pictures

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