Despite how mum the studio might be right now over what is happening regarding this project, there are no doubt things happening behind the scenes. Agents are calling studios, production people are examining costs, and there are definitely actors who have no idea they are being talked about for potential roles that could change their careers.
How often do we hear stories about two actors being up for the same role only to lose that role to another actor with more weight? Rumor has it that was exactly the case for Steve Martin and Robin Williams when Tim Burton cast the Joker in 1989's Batman. Here, they probably thought they had it locked...Then Jack Nicholson came in and it was a whole other ballgame.
And speaking of the iconic Joker character, who first appeared in the Batman #1 comic in 1940, we've decided that whether he is the villain in the next film or not, we've got some ideas about who should play this white faced, red lipped, green haired maniac.
1 Peter Sarsgaard
As he displayed in films like Boys Don't Cry and An Education, this guy knows his way in front of a movie camera. Equally evident as the baddie Hector Hammond in Green Lantern, Sarsgaard could do a lot more with a role like this if he was given a lot more to do. And lets just say that the world that Batman inhabits is a bit different than that of Green Lantern.
Just imagine what Sarsgaard could do with this role? Imagine that face caked in white make-up and his mouth slammed with cheery red lipstick? Then add to that eyes that seem to linger but actually bely the machinations of pure evil. I am thinking that his take on this role would be quite different than that of even the late Heath Ledger.
Peter Sarsgaard would give us a more cerebral Joker. One that maybe doesn't talk as much, which would make his every utterance, his every action, one to watch.
2 Aaron Paul
As the character of Jesse Pinkman in AMC's Breaking Bad, Aaron Paul showed the ability to straddle the worlds of moral bankruptcy and potential fatherhood. Given impossible tasks by his boss Walter White (Bryan Cranston), we saw Paul take this seemingly one dimensional burn out and make him the one character we could root for; most of the time.
Translate that ability to the Joker and Paul might be the best suited actor on this list. In his mid-thirties, this actor is neither too young nor is he too old to make this character work for him. Physically, he wouldn't need to do much because it isn't like The Joker needs to be on steroids. Rather, Paul's stature could work for him the way that Kurtwood Smith made the Clarence Boddicker character so robust in 1987's Robocop; words followed by actions would certainly rule the day here.
Paul could play this role as a man behind the scenes, pulling the strings, and somehow getting away with the impossible because his criminal mind is so far ahead of everyone else's. This isn't to say that we wouldn't see the Joker at work; hardly. Rather, we would see what Paul was willing to reveal. Peeling the character back layer by layer until we have to shield our eyes to what he's exposed us to.
3 Alexander Koch
We already touted this actor for the Joker role in our story on the "5 Things That Must Happen In Man of Steel 2". To read that:
We talked about how in his role as Junior Rennie in Under the Dome he already has displayed an excellent pedigree to play this homicidal maniac. However, Alexander Koch also brings the intangibility of youth. He is a fresh faced actor who is obviously younger than a lot of the talent mentioned in this story, but there is also a mystique about him.
Who is he?
This question could very well be answered in a much more interesting way by placing him in this role. Let us not forget that it won't just be Superman going after this sociopath, it will be Batman as well. Batman will bring a familiarity to this pursuit because he's dealt with the Joker before. They have a history that could be exploited...Or not.
Considering Koch's age we could maybe go back a bit and also make Man of Steel 2 an origin story for this character? Lord knows, we don't need to see how Superman and Batman became how they are. Did the Joker really get his start as a failed comedian who fell into a life of crime? Is he the product of an abusive family life? Did he really fall into a vat of chemicals? Did he have it all and just decided that he'd rather kill than be killed?
Whatever the case...When the short list of actors is bandied about for this coveted part, it would be crime not to at least have Alexander Koch's name somewhere near the top 5.
4 Glenn Howertown
All really good comedians seem to function from a place of darkness. There is something about that darkness that informs their comedy and it makes what they do have an immediacy to it. It is almost as if the comic has to be funny or else he'll be something unimaginable.
If that doesn't sound like the perfect mix to bring to the portrayal of The Joker then we don't know what does. In the role of Dennis Reynolds in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Glenn Howerton has shown an ability to separate himself amidst the frenetic comic firestorm that dominates the show. This is no small feat considering that some of his cast mates could also be up for the green haired man of mischief. (Let us not forget that Danny DeVito also played The Penguin in Batman Returns so there is a bit a synergy with this project already.)
In watching Howerton on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, it isn't hard at all to imagine him in the joker costume. However, one imagines he might go more understated with the role. There would be no need to be zany even though he could be internally imploding in every scene he's in. In fact, maybe Man of Steel 2 could open in Arkham Asylum? Batman needs to question the Joker about capturing another lunatic and it is here that we come to learn more about this character.
There's a lot that many actors could do with a part like this, however, it is actors like Howerton that can add dimensions that make comparisons to previous portrayals not even necessary.
5 Leonardo DiCaprio
Okay, we get it, Leonardo DiCaprio loves the films of the 1970s. However, in trying to save the world with such movies as Revolutionary Road, Body of Lies and the Blood Diamond, the actor has gotten, how should we say...Too serious?
Make no mistake about about it, the above listed titles were all good, solid films, but one just needs to watch Inception or J. Edgar and it's apparent that Leo isn't enjoying himself on screen as much as he used to. And yes, Inception is a great movie!
However, there was a huge ray of hope in his performance as Calvin Candie in Quentin Tarantino's audacious Django Unchained. In this role, he showed that he could be just as bad as any character that exists in the world of superheroes. However, this was a Tarantino film so by proxy, in a lot of ways, it already has the trappings of a superhero flick.
Imagine DiCaprio being allowed to chew scenery as one of the most iconic villains to ever grace the silver screen? Calvin Candie was a nobody compared to the Joker, and DiCaprio made him unforgettable. With Leo as the man with the green follicles one imagines that he might break new ground and bring this character to even more unchartered territory.
And as for the actor who shouldn't play the Joker...
6 John Leguizamo
Apparently, on some TV show or some place, John Leguizamo expressed an interest in playing this character. This makes sense, what actor wouldn't want to try and tackle a role like the Joker? However, Leguizamo isn't the guy.
Make no mistake, this guy can act. From Casualties of War to Hangin' With The Homeboys to Carlito's Way to Land of the Dead, this actor has proven nothing if not versatile. The problem is that it feels like Leguizamo has been in everything. No matter what movie you watch, Leguizamo always seems to show up!
This is precisely what Man of Steel 2 doesn't need.
The Joker works best when there is a sense of mysteriousness about him. When he isn't over the top... but real. Therein lies the genius of the lucky actor who lands this role'. How do you play an over the top character in a way that isn't overt?
Leguizamo is a fine actor... he just reveals too much. He doesn't become the roles he plays so much as he's impressing people by his ability to play the role. In a DC universe of unknowns, the actor playing the Joker needs to be specific.
John Leguizamo is many things... just not that.
What do you think? Is this list off base or right on the money? Should we quit our day jobs and cast films for the studios? Or quit show business all together?
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice comes to theaters May 6th, 2016 and stars Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Gal Gadot, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons. The film is directed by Zack Snyder.