jack nicholson the joker

Jack Nicholson The Joker

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Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of The Joker in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman movie is considered one of the most iconic and memorable performances in cinematic history. However, what many people don’t know is that Nicholson and Burton had a disagreement about one particular aspect of The Joker’s appearance.

Jack Nicholson The Joker- The Joker’s Look

The Joker is known for his pale skin, green hair, and red lips. These characteristics have become synonymous with the character and are immediately recognizable to most people. However, during the development of the movie, Tim Burton and Jack Nicholson had different ideas about how to achieve The Joker’s look.

The Disagreement

Burton wanted The Joker to have a more disfigured and grotesque appearance, with scars and wounds covering his face. On the other hand, Nicholson preferred a more refined and polished look, with subtle makeup and a clean appearance. This difference in opinion caused some tension between the two, as they both had strong beliefs about how The Joker should look.

Nicholson’s Argument

Nicholson argued that The Joker was a refined and sophisticated criminal, and his appearance should reflect that. He didn’t want The Joker to look like a monster, but rather like a gentleman who had a twisted sense of humor. Nicholson also believed that his acting would be able to convey the craziness and maniacal nature of the character, without the need for heavy makeup.

Burton’s Argument

On the other hand, Burton believed that The Joker should be a truly frightening and monstrous villain. He thought that the character should look like he had been through a traumatic event, with scars and wounds covering his face. Burton also believed that The Joker’s appearance should reflect his mental state, which was unstable and unpredictable.

The Compromise

In the end, a compromise was reached between the two. The Joker’s appearance was refined and polished, with subtle makeup and a clean appearance, but he also had some disfiguring features, such as a large scar on his face. This compromise satisfied both Burton and Nicholson and allowed them to move forward with the project.

The Legacy

Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of The Joker is still considered one of the most iconic performances in cinematic history. His unique take on the character, combined with his natural charisma and talent, created a truly memorable and unforgettable villain. The Joker’s appearance in the 1989 Batman movie set the standard for all future iterations of the character and has become a part of pop culture history.


The disagreement between Jack Nicholson and Tim Burton over The Joker’s appearance is a testament to the dedication and passion that goes into creating a memorable character. Both Nicholson and Burton had strong beliefs about how The Joker should look, and their compromise resulted in a look that is still iconic to this day. The legacy of The Joker, and Nicholson’s performance, will continue to be celebrated and remembered for years to come.


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