4 actors who almost played the Joker (and 2 who should have)

A handful of talented actors have played the infamous DC villain the Joker on the big and small screen, but here are a few that missed out on the part.

2023 SFFILM Awards Night
2023 SFFILM Awards Night / Steve Jennings/GettyImages
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Willem Dafoe
"Poor Things" UK Gala Screening - Arrivals / Karwai Tang/GettyImages

Willem Dafoe should've played the Joker

How hasn't Willem Dafoe played the Joker?! Even he's expressed interest in the role. The four-time Academy Award nominee is no stranger to superhero movies, playing the Green Goblin in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man movies (a role he reprised in 2021's Spider-Man: No Way Home) and Vulko in Aquaman and Zack Snyder's Justice League. Fans of the actor have been rallying around him to play the Clown Prince of Crime for years and years now, and it's shocking to me he hasn't been tapped for at least a small appearance somehow.

Dafoe hasn't shied away from questions about the role, either. The most recent example came earlier this year when he appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, telling the host: "You know, talk to Warner Bros... I floated an idea a while ago, but it didn't quite happen, so..." The idea he was referring to was his pitch for Todd Phillips' Joker, which he talked about in an interview with GQ in 2022. Dafoe clarified, "I didn't really float it to them," though his quote did go viral. In the interview, he said he had an idea of there being a "Joker imposter" which he could play.

"So it would be possible to have not dueling Jokers, but someone that [claims] to be the Joker that isn't the Joker. And that kind of opens up the possibility of an interesting story, particularly if you had Joaquin Phoenix's Joker, and then you had someone who was either imitating or riffing off what he did. I fantasized about that."

Willem Dafoe

There's no denying Dafoe's talent and ability to bring a chilling creepiness to a role. He also has fantastic range and could bring an emotional complexity to the Joker, just like Phoenix does. The ship may have sailed for Dafoe to play the character, but that's something I would totally watch!

Bill Skarsgard
2020 Sundance Film Festival - "Nine Days" Premiere / George Pimentel/GettyImages

Bill Skarsgård would've made an awesome Joker

Another actor on this list who's played Pennywise the Clown is Bill Skarsgård, someone who's really proven his talent in recent years. In addition to playing the villain in Andy Muschietti's It series, Skarsgård has appeared in movies like Barbarian, John Wick: Chapter 4, and Eternals, along with a starring role in Netflix's Clark and an awesome supporting role in Hulu's Castle Rock. Similar to others on the list, he definitely knows how to play a villain.

It's no surprise fans have wanted Skarsgård to play the Joker for a while now, with so many fan casts and impressive pieces of fan art popping up all over the internet. It doesn't look like the actor has weighed in on the possibility, but I'm sure he'd be up for the challenge! And even if this never comes to fruition, Skarsgård won't have a shortage of success in the next few years. In fact, I think he's about to blow up with his upcoming roles as Count Orlok in Robert Eggers' Nosferatu and Eric Draven in Rupert Sanders' reboot of The Crow. Maybe after these roles, he'll get the attention of Warner Bros.

Who would you love to see play the Joker one day?

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