The Joker is an utterly transfixing antagonist, and maybe one of the best fictional villains of all time. He is like Hannibal Lecter in the sense that he kind of disarms people with his madcap approach to things, yet has nefarious intentions all along.
Like he himself stated in The Dark Knight, he is an agent of chaos. And though there may have been Joker actors (Heath Ledger, for example) who nailed the role before that doesn’t mean someone else cannot do a very cool interpretation of the character through their own eyes.
When most characters get rebooted with new actors, it can be frustrating, but with the Joker I am always excited to see who dons the makeup next because they ALL seem to bring something unique to the character, and as a fan of the Joker for many years, I appreciate them all. They are like cover versions of a song I already love.
With that very Joker-love in the air, I thought it would be a good time to wax about who could possibly fill the Joker’s clown shoes next and bring something wicked and unique to the character we all love to hate to love (to hate).
Here are 15 actors (and a few actress because, well, you’ll see) who should play the Joker in the upcoming Joker origin story and potentially some future Batman films as well.
Keep in mind: opinion piece. There is no “right” and “wrong” here, just one writer’s opinion.
15) Iwan Rheon
To mention a name most people don’t know firsthand while mentioning potential future Joker actors might seem like a weird way to start the list, but I have been a fan of Iwan Rheon since his run on the show Misfits, and his portrayal of Ramsey Bolton on Game of Thrones was utterly disturbing but showed he has a penchant for playing a sicko who wears a constant grin and gets off on evil deeds.
He would also go from being an unknown to being a superstar overnight which is just what this dude deserves. I mean, just look at that grin up in the above photo.
Says it all.
Speaking of former Misfits stars…
14) Joe Gilgun
This name may not ring a lot of bells but if any of you have seen the aforementioned Misfits or watched either season of the stellar Preacher series on AMC knows (Gilgun plays Cassidy,a show favorite) I am spot-on with this choice.
Gilgun IS an agent of chaos in real life, and is very much like the characters he portrays. His role as Cassidy the vampire on Preacher has shown us he can switch on and off the charm as quickly as he likes, as he can be goofy and menacing as f*ck which is what would make him fit so well to be a new Joker actor.
He seems unhinged and that would work great for a manic character like the Joker.
13) Tom Waits
Well, if we are going for an older Joker in some of the upcoming movies, singer/actor/overall eccentric Tom Waits would make a perfect Joker, seeing as to how Ledger took most of his mannerisms for Dark Knight’s Joker from the way Tom Waits talks and moves and acts in real life.
The above interview footage will prove to you, he IS the Joker.
And he has done enough creepy and serious acting before so he could pull of being the star of the story that tells us the Joker origins we have all been waiting years for.
12) Meg Ryan
Meg Ryan will be one of TWO females you will find on this list, but this one is just me being cruel.
Meg Ryan has actually had SO MUCH plastic surgery done, she botched her own face up and looks EXACTLY what you would expect the Joker to look like if you ever saw him (her, it) in public.
She wouldn’t need makeup or anything. She could just show up as is, and boom, the Joker. Those of you who see the above pic cannot argue that fact, either.
11) Bradley Cooper
I will admit, I am not a huge Bradley Cooper fan, but when someone said this to me a while back it just clicked. Not all Joker versions have to be overly insane. Think of the good-looking Cooper playing him more like the classic villain. Well dressed, well spoken but truly crazy.
And we are at the point in Cooper’s career when it would be cool to see him unleash the beast, as he has yet to have a chance to do that in any of his roles.
If he brought even half the lunacy he brings doing the voicework for Rocket Racoon in GOTG movies to The Joker, he could show us a Joker we have truly never seen before.
10) Adam Driver
Though known best as emo Star Wars villain Kylo Ren now, Adam Driver first landed some fame from his stint on HBO show Girls and has just skyrocketed ever since.
And even just looking at him, the man has a very unique facial structure, which, with the right makeup, could potentially make the scariest and creepiest Joker yet. A young, diabolical, unhinged madman.
And he pulls off Kylo Ren so we know he can do it. Just hope his Joker would be a little crazier than emo is all.
A simple request, really.
9) Will Poulter
The name may not be familiar to American audiences as he is a young U.K actor who has landed some American roles, but none that have done the kid justice. His talent is off-the-charts and he looks so much like The Joker and a creepy clown in real life that it just makes sense he would play a cool and unique version of the Joker.
He was also supposed to play Pennywise before the Skarsgard kid nailed the performance, so apparently someone already knows Poulter was born to play an evil, killer clown, and what better killer clown that the Joker?
Plus, let him keep his accent. A Joker with a British accent would be even cooler and more dignified, which would make him even scarier (think Hannibal Lecter for example).
Mark my words, this kid will be a future Joker actor at some point, I’ll put money on it!
8) Steve Buscemi
I know, I know, it sounds weird at first but hear me out.
Buscemi is a great actor who can do anything. He also has a hugely distinctive look that, with some clown makeup, could prove to be the scariest looking Joker yet. Those big, expressive eyes and that odd Buscemi accent could all lend itself to a very combustible Joker who seems mellow and normal until he flips that switches and is suddenly the scariest dude ever.
And don’t say he is too thin or too old, we know there are MANY Joker movies coming, and I bet you money Buscemi would kill it (pun intended) if given the chance.
7) Nicolas Cage
Yes, I went there. If you want “Crazy” from your future Joker actor, looks no further than the master of rage, Cage! Yes, he may play it very over-the-top a lot, but here’s the thing:
The Joker IS over the top.
So Cage jumping around and singing and screaming weird shit is by no means unheard of. Yes, some people think he is a nut, and there may be some truth to that, but who better to play a nut than an actual nut?
I may be the minority here, but I would cut off a pinky if it meant I would get to see Nicolas Cage just go full batshit insane as the Joker at one point. Maybe they could work the Wicker Man into it and have this Joker terribly afraid of bees getting into his eyes?
Nah, moving on…
6) Christoph Waltz
Yes, I do want a mature Joker, I won’t lie. If they are going for full life story and origin of Joker, there is a good chance they may want more than one actor to portray the psychopath at different stages of his life of crime. And when they get to an older Joker, I believe Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained) would be perfect.
He already has a really creepy, forced grin sometimes, his face has some signs of life on it (which would show us a more weathered Joker, which we have yet to see outside Jack Nicholson) and he seems to enjoy playing bad guys, so imagine the charisma he could bring to a more established Joker?
Hey, if you think the above choice is weird, just wait…..
5) Cate Blanchett
She played Bob Dylan in a movie and you literally couldn’t tell it was her. The woman is an acting powerhouse, and she could do a kind of sexually fluid Joker where you are not quite sure which gender you are dealing with but that is okay because it would add to the uncertainty of the character himself.
She could also just play it as a dude, she is that talented. It is not about gender, it is about performance, and this woman is unstoppable in any role she takes.
4) Javier Bardem/Jeffrey Dean Morgan
This one is a tie between the scary guy from No Country for Old Men and his (not related) twin, Jeffrey Dean Morgan who plays Negan on Walking Dead currently.
They both get the same spot because they look a helluva lot like each other, and I feel like both could bring something unique to the Joker.
Bardem could bring a steely intensity and a sense of maturity with his age. He is also scary as hell which would work well with the Joker. His turn in Mother this year also shows us, he could pull off The Joker with very little effort.
And we have seen from how much fun Morgan has playing Negan, he could EASILY portray another sick man who seems to genuinely enjoy the mental and physical abuse of others. Plus, his cockiness would translate to a more confident Joker which would be cool to see as well.
3) Willem Dafoe
Just look at dude!! His face is already 110% Joker, and the way he plays his over-the-top villains (think Boondock Saints) is always a genuine thrill to watch.
If it is true that the new Joker movie will be an origins story, wouldn’t it make sense they cast multiple Jokers (as in the Joker in his 20s would not be the same Joker in his 40s)? You could have Dafoe as DA FOE of the movie (I am kinda proud of that wordplay, won’t lie) at the end. A kind of older Joker sitting by the fireplace in a smoking jacket and remembering his life while telling us his story in a purple smoking jacket. Yes, please?!
Like I said, if this flick really will be the Joker origins, Dafoe should play the Joker in his older years. He would kill the part, maybe literally.
Dude is kinda crazy, after all.
2) Jake Gyllenhaal
I am gonna fight for this one until it happens. From the giant eyes and the strange, surreal face shape to just how INTENSE he can be (Donnie Darko, Southpaw, Nightcrawler) Jake Jellyballs seems like he would be the PERFECT fit to play the new and improved Joker.
Dude has such a versatile range, and that could work well for the inconsistent mannerisms of the Joker. One minute he is charming you with his arm around your shoulder, next minute he is choking you out for not liking his joke with that exact same arm.
Gyllenhaal would nail that tone perfectly and has a face that would benefit the makeup naturally and organically.
My two-minute paint job above on pic very much validates this belief.
ONE) Leonardo DiCaprio
This is the one dude who it sounds like will certainly land the role as the next Joker actor, at least if the rumors surrounding the Scorsese origin pic end up being true. And you know what, I can’t even be remotely mad at that casting choice.
We have yet to see Leo do an evil role (outside Django, which he NAILED), and would be really interesting to see what kind of intensity he could tap into to portray the Joker. Would he be dapper and well-spoken like the animated series? Would he be kinda sexy and psychopathic like Leto’s Joker, or would be bring something COMPLETELY unique to the character that would blow us all away?
Probably the third one, and I cannot wait to find out when this movie finally drops.
So who do YOU think should play the Joker in the upcoming films? Hit up our comments and let us know!