Tim Burton’s First Choice to Play the Joker

When Jack Nicholson played the Joker in the 1989 version of Batman, it was an obvious casting choice. He certainly looked the part, and it was the perfect vehicle for him to go wild onscreen. Yet now we’ve learned that Tim Burton had another actor in mind to play the legendary Batman villain, and it would have made a very interesting choice indeed.

The Huffington Post reports that Brad Dourif was Burton’s first casting pick, and if you’re not familiar with the name, Dourif is a character actor who’s been around forever. 

Dourif first gained prominence for playing the disturbed Billy Bibbit in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. In addition, Dourif has played featured roles in Ragtime, Dune, Blue Velvet, Mississippi Burning, and Lord of the Rings, where he played Grima Wormtongue. Horror fans should also know Dourif as the voice of Chucky in Child’s Play. 

As the Huffington Post reports, Dourif recently spoke at a Comic Con panel, where he said, “Tim Burton saw me on a plane and wanted to cast me, and [Warner Bros.] said no.” Then Dourif joked, “[Nicholson] takes all my roles.” This report also tells us that Burton wanted Dourif to play the Scarecrow in the third Batman film, but then Joel Schumacher took over the franchise. 

So while Jack certainly gave a wild and crazy performance as Batman’s arch nemesis, Douriff could have put in a creepier and disturbing turn as The Joker that wouldn’t have been a stereotypical choice, but it probably would have been just as memorable in a much different, left of center way.