In a recent interview with New York Magazine’s Vulture website, veteran actor, John Lithgow, recently revealed that he had not one but two chances to play the Joker. Apparently, prolific genre director, Joe Dante (Gremlins), was originally attached to direct the 1989 classic, and had the 3rd Rock from The Sun actor in mind to play this definitive villain. When Dante left the project, Tim Burton (Beetlejuice) took over the reins and also had the talented thespian in mind. More so, he had him audition for the role, but according to Lithgow himself in the Vulture interview, he intentionally damaged his own audition:
“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. 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.”
One can only imagine how he would’ve handled the role, as his turns as a villain, in Raising Cain and Ricochet, definitely gives moviegoers a preview of what could have been and the depths of how demented his take on the character could be.