Mark Hamill (Joker) Interview – ‘Batman: Arkham City’

In just two more month, we’ll finally be getting the hotly anticipated sequel to the best superhero video game ever, Batman: Arkham Asylum. I had a chance to talk to Mark Hamill during Comic-Con 2011 about his experience with voicing the Joker and on the upcoming Batman: Arkham City game.

John Spartan: How do you feel about Hugo Strange?

Mark Hamill: Oh Hugo Strange. He was a great character. For minute there I thought you were talking about the Red Skull, because I did a cartoon as the Red Skull. He’s [being played by] one of my favorite actors, Hugo Weaving?

JS: Yeah

MH: Is that who he is in Captain America?

JS: Yeah in Captain America.

MH: Yeah, so I got a little confused. Well there’s such a great variety of villains for Batman. I remembered when I first wanted to be on the show, because I read it out on the fan press, I called my agent and said I want to get in on the Batman series. I said I’d love to do a character that’s never been done before. I remember that was the one I mentioned. I said, “How about Two-Face or Dr. Hugo Strange?” just so I wouldn’t have to follow Frank Gorshin as the Riddler, or Jack Nicholson as the Joker. That seemed to be a little more dangerous way to go, because people have preconceived notions of how he should sound. But as it turned out, be careful for what you wish for.

When I auditioned for it [the Joker], I remember leaving there, driving away in the parking lot thinking, “That was the best Joker ever. If they don’t hire me, they’re crazy! I’m wonderful in this part!”

And then I don’t know, a week went by, my agent called and said, “You got it.”

“Got what? What is it?”

“You got the Joker.”

“Oh no, no, no, no, I can’t do that.”

“Why not?”

I said, “Because there’s no way I can do it to everyone’s satisfaction. Number one, they’ll prejudge me because I was Luke in Star Wars, and you know, it just doesn’t compute. Number two, everybody’s imagined how he sounds.” I mean forget about Jack Nicholson if you can. Everybody in their own mind has imagined how he should sound, so I went completely 180 degrees in the other direction. I lost all confidence.

In fact, I remember shaking while I went into the first recording because I couldn’t even remember what I had done. Now I realize they had reference tapes of what I had recorded, but even then I wasn’t even thinking clearly. I was not thinking clearly. I mean, I was going in there and I was doing Ross Perot or something. I don’t know where I was.

You find a thread. Once you have one under your belt, and then two, you get to sort of know. I want to try and almost approach it like it was a new character just in the series that had never existed before if I could. But then it got so comfortable, I mean I was really sorry when it ended, which it did for me in 2004, then I went on to do The Batman and Brave and the Bold and all that. I thought, well you know, all good things come to an end… a beginning of an end, and you had a 13-year run. I can’t complain about that.

[Talks about being invited back to voice the Joker in the games] It wouldn’t be so meaningful if I wasn’t able to get to work with Kevin again, or get to work with Paul Dini, the writer. It was like we were a family, and you find that so many situations in TV series, you spend more time with them in many ways than you do with your real family. So to me, it was a great opportunity to come back and do a reunion situation. I had no idea it’d be this popular.

You can check out the full video interview below.


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