In a little over a year, Margot Robbie will become the first actress to breathe life into the fan-favorite DC Comics villain/anti-hero Harley Quinn in David Ayer's Suicide Squad - though it may surprise you to learn that we almost had a big screen version of the character years ago. Quinn was actually originally considered to make her first live-action appearance in what would have been Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin follow-up, Batman Unchained, and what's more, she might have been played by none-other than Hole front-woman Courtney Love.
In a rundown of all the failed Batman-related projects that came and went prior to Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins in 2005, The Hollywood Reporter has the details about Batman Unchained and the version of Harley Quinn that never made it to the big screen. Speaking with Mark Protosevich, who was in charge of penning the script for the film, the trade learned about how Courtney Love was initially considered to play the Joker's primary romantic interest, and that both the production and the singer/actress were both interested in the prospect of her playing the role. Discussing a lunch meeting that was set up between him and Love, the screenwriter said,
I think she had heard about the possibility of Harley Quinn being in the new Batman and was thinking she would be good for it. But we didn't really talk about that. We talked about a lot of other things. It was certainly one of the better lunches I've ever had in my career in show business.
According to the story, Batman Unchained was being set up to unite the continuity of both the Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher films - featuring all of the most notable villains in those four movies - but it Harley Quinn who was really meant to wind up stealing the show. Described as being a "complex, conflicted and ultimately a good person underneath," the movie would have initially featured her as one of the story's antagonists, but she would have ended the movie with a bit of redemption.
The idea of casting Courtney Love to play Harley Quinn in a modern context probably sounds ridiculous, but it was far from that back in early 1997 when Batman Unchained was being developed (the months before the release of Batman & Robin). While Love was only starting out her career as an actor back then, she was coming off of Milos Foreman's The People vs. Larry Flynt, and that was a performance that not only nabbed her a Golden Globe nomination, but had her in Oscar discussions. Since then, she has acted in a few other notable titles - including Foreman's Man on the Moon in 1999 - and has most recently taken her career to television, where she's been featured on shows like Sons of Anarchy, Empire, and Revenge.
We'll probably never know what Courtney Love might have done with the Harley Quinn personality, but it won't be too much longer until we finally get to see a live-action version of the character. Suicide Squad is set to hit theaters on August 5, 2016.