Up until 1989, the only person who had portrayed the Joker on camera was Caesar Romero in the camp comedy version of Batman during the 1960s. Then Tim Burton's extravaganza came along with Michael Keaton in the lead role for Batman and with a stellar performance from Jack Nicholson as Gotham's favorite villain, the franchise would become iconic for DC and superhero installments for generations to come.
Unbeknown to the moviegoing public, John Lithgow would cite a lack of enthusiasm for the project in pre-production as a means to turn Burton down for the part of the cackling menace. Talking to Vulture about his bombed audition that turned into a flat out cancelation by the actor, Lithgow admitted that it would be one of his all time great regrets.
JL: Joker Buzz Took Me By Surprise
Despite a CV that boasts some absolute classics of the 80s and 90s from Cliffhanger to The Pelican Brief, Distant Thunder and Footloose, Lithgow could not help but remember one moment that he wished he could have back.
"My worst audition was for Tim Burton for Batman," he reflected. "I have never told anyone this story, but I tried to persuade him I was not right for the part, and I succeeded. I didn't realize it was such a big deal. About a week later I heard they were going after Robin Williams and Jack Nicholson."
Prior to Burton's title that would spawn a sequel in Batman Returns, filmmaker Joe Dante had a Batman film in the works years earlier. Naturally he had no inclination to portray the character back then either.
“I was doing M. Butterfly on Broadway and it was an exhausting show. It would have meant leaving that show and going right into a movie, and I said, ‘I just don’t think I can’. How about that for stupid? Actors are not necessarily smart people.”
Bat Signal to Shine in LA for Late Adam West
Since tributes have been flowing for the original Bruce Wayne, Adam West's light will shine bright in the skies of Los Angeles. Deadline reports that the late actor will have the special ceremony take place on Thursday night with the Batman spotlight held at the tower of Los Angeles City Hall.
West’s family said in a statement Saturday that he was anything but a Dark Knight.
“Our dad always saw himself as The Bright Knight, and aspired to make a positive impact on his fans’ lives. He was and always will be our hero.”