Audio of Tim Curry as Joker in Batman: The Animated Series surfaces

The Flash -- "The Present" -- Image FLA309a_0251b.jpg -- Pictured: Mark Hamill as James Jesse -- Photo: Katie Yu/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.
The Flash -- "The Present" -- Image FLA309a_0251b.jpg -- Pictured: Mark Hamill as James Jesse -- Photo: Katie Yu/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved. /

Rough footage showing what character actor Tim Curry sounded like voicing The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series has surfaced.

Mark Hamill goes down in history as perhaps the best Joker of all time for the groundbreaking bravura and calculated clownishness he brought time and again to the part in animation. However, the Star Wars actor wasn’t the first choice for the Clown Prince of Crime back in the ’90s. Producers had another thespian in mind with a penchant for sinister portrayals.

Currying favor with The Joker and Batman

Tim Curry, the star of such beloved films as The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, was originally selected for the job and even recorded some dialogue before he bowed out to make way for Hamill. Due to this trivia, fans often wondered how Curry sounded as Mr. J.

Now, thanks to rough audio and footage discovered by YouTuber Phil Machi as well as a segment of the Internet, curious admirers of Batman: The Animated Series needn’t wonder any longer. That said, as momentous as this discovery is, viewers of the following clip might come away with mixed feelings.

You can watch the video here.

You want to play dirty, Joker?

Curry’s voice work was done for the Season One episode “The Last Laugh” in which The Joker causes a sweltering Gotham to burst into uncontrollable laughter with garbage fumes from a barge carrying his trademark gas throughout the city. This was also the episode where we were introduced to – and forced to witness the demise of – hench-robot Captain Clown.

Interviews with episode director Kevin Altieri, executive producer Eric Radomski, and the late Kevin Conroy supplement the rare footage with a background of why Curry’s approach made him an awkward fit nowhere near the heights Hamill took the role, and what he brought to the table that evoked a typical interpretation.

Radomski knew one thing: he didn’t want somebody who would just impersonate Jack Nicholson’s performance in Tim Burton’s Batman, so Curry was given a chance. “Tim came with a natural theatrical sort of presence to his delivery which we wanted,” Radomski said. Joker, though colorful and goofy to a fault, was not going to look like a bumbling buffoon.

Send in the Clown

“He had to have some class to him,” Radomski continued, “and then the dark side was completely second nature to Tim,” to the point he could convey an unsettling creepiness that made producers nervous, which is no surprise when it’s the guy who first popularized Pennywise on the small screen.

Still, Curry may have had the demeanor but he didn’t have the delivery to match Luke Skywalker. “He was the Joker like ‘terrifying and lock up the children and don’t let them watch,'” said Conroy. “Tim was just a little bit like a horror movie.” Contrasting the two, the late voice of Batman classified Curry as “crazy scary” and Hamill as “crazy funny and scary.”

Conroy added that Hamill found the humor and “absurdity in the character” which “brought a whole different color to it.” He didn’t understand why the Skywalker actor was reading for the villain at first but then saw how Hamill performed it before the standard was set for generations. “I realized there’s a madman inside Mark Hamill,” Conroy said.

Using the Force

Hamill would nail his audition with the perfect mix of menace and intellect, thus replacing Curry. Conroy explained this happens all the time even to the most talented actors. In this case, both Curry and Hamill were “wonderful” to work with, Conroy said, but the latter was more “insane” to be in a recording booth with.

As for why exactly Curry was replaced mid-production, stories range from him coming down with a throat ailment last minute to simply not nailing the laugh satisfyingly enough. Radomski hinted, however, it was a combination of factors.

“He [Curry] had the menace that we wanted. I can’t say we were completely satisfied with it, but that had less to do with whether we thought Tim was delivering or we didn’t fully understand what we wanted yet,” Radomski explained.

Whatever it was, they found it in Hamill and most agree he was the right choice. After all, he is still voicing Joker to this very day although he won’t have Conroy to share his wackiness with anymore.

Next. Matt Reeves looks to build his Batman Universe. dark

What do you think of Tim Curry’s voice in place of Mark Hamill’s as The Joker? Was he any good? Whether you think so or not, reach out to us in the comments and on social media with your answers.