Willem Dafoe Had Some Conversations About Playing The Joker In 1989's Batman

Willem Dafoe Norman Osborn Spider-Man

Few actors have become associated with villainous roles quite like Willem Dafoe. Maybe it's the face, or perhaps it's the rabid intensity, but he seems to know just how to tap into something sinister and evil. With that in mind, many fans have suggested him as a possible actor to one day step into the iconic purple suit of The Joker. What some of those fans might not know, however, is that he was at one point talked about to play the role in Tim Burton's 1989 Batman. Willem Dafoe recounted the experience in a recent interview and said:

[Screenwriter Sam] Hamm said something about how physi­cally I would be perfect for the part, but they never offered it to me.

So while Willem Dafoe never officially received an offer to portray Jack Napier in Tim Burton's original Batman movie, he was apparently in consideration for the part before cameras started rolling. The film's writer, Sam Hamm, remarked on how he physically fit the bill for the type of Joker they were trying to create.

Alas, according to Willem Dafoe's remarks about the situation to THR, he was never actually extended an offer to portray The Clown Prince of Crime. In the end, Jack Nicholson was brought onboard to play the part, which would then cement him in the annals of comic book movie history as arguably one of the all-time greatest villains of the genre.

jack nicholson joker batman

Willem Dafoe isn't the only actor to just barely miss out on a chance to play The Joker over the years. In fact, The Crown's John Lithgow opened up and admitted that he also had a chance to play the evil clown as well -- although his version would've appeared in an unmade Batman movie under the direction of Gremlins' Joe Dante, and not the Tim Burton movie that actually got made.

Even though he never got to play The Joker in Tim Burton's Batman, Willem Dafoe ultimately became reasonably familiar with the comic book movie genre in the later years of his career. He portrayed Norman Osborn, a.k.a. the Green Goblin, in Sam Raimi's original Spider-Man movie (a role that he would later reprise in the form of hallucinations), and he will soon step into the boots of Nuidis Vulko in James Wan's Aquaman. He was supposed to debut as Vulko in Zack Snyder's Justice League, but he ended up on the cutting room floor.

In the end, although he never played The Joker, Willem Dafoe's career has still been filled with particularly impressive professional accolades. In fact, we will watch him duke it out for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in The Florida Project when The Academy Awards air on Sunday, March 4 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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Conner Schwerdtfeger

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.