From Jack Nicholson to Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix, plenty of actors have taken up the role of Joker in DC’s various Batman films. Now, Barry Keoghan — who appeared as the Clown Prince of Crime in Matt Reeves’ The Batman — has shared why it’s difficult to play the character.
“It’s very intimidating [playing the Joker],” Keoghan told Collider. “Heath Ledger was the best for me. So you have a lot of people to draw from and that. But again, you bring your version to it. That’s what I do with any character I play, is no one has seen my version of it.”
But while Keoghan names the bar he is compared against, he also relished the challenge of the role. “And again, going back to it, I don’t want to be like so-and-so, and follow that method and that method. I want to do me. I want to bring my version, because I feel that is new in a way, and unique, that when you bring your version no one has seen it. And that may make people relate to it. So it was intimidating, but I was excited for it.”
It makes sense that Keoghan pointed to Ledger’s iconic version of Joker, as The Dark Knight still marks the character’s peak for many Batman fans. The actor was famous for his commitment to the role, and his performance eventually earned a posthumous Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
Ledger’s Joker won IGN’s Batman villain face-off earlier this year, proving the performance’s staying power nearly a decade-and-a-half later.
While Keoghan hasn’t been invited back for The Batman 2 just yet, the actor said he’ll jump at the opportunity if he gets the call. And, The Batman director Matt Reeves has considered doing a project in the “Arkham space” featuring Keoghan.
Keoghan briefly appeared in The Batman, showing up at the end after The Riddler is locked up in Arkham Asylum. The Riddler meets Keoghan’s Joker, who is in a neighboring cell. There is also a deleted scene featuring Joker, in which Batman goes to his nemesis for assistance in the Riddler investigation.