Joker actors ranked: who is the best Joker?
Which Joker is the best? Vote for your favourite Clown Prince of Crime?
UPDATE:A new comic book run is set to focus on some of the greatest-ever Joker stories, brining in elements of The Killing Joke and other memorable storylines. Called Three Jokers, it will focus on the famous victims of the Joker, including The Red Hood (Jason Todd) and Batgirl (Barbara Gordon). It has been written by Geoff Johns, who has been involved in the brilliant Titans TV show and will be a three book run, out June 17.
- With a new Joker often comes a new Batman, so check our ranking of the best Batman actors to have your say
Best Joker actors
1. Heath Ledger
To many, Heath Ledger will always be the ultimate Joker. As the main villain of the second, and ultimately most critically acclaimed, part of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, Ledger’s Joker was nothing like those who came before him. Ledger’s influence of graphic novels, Batman: The Killing Joke and Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, punk rock and Anthony Burgess’ The Clockwork Orange made his Joker unique.
2. Joaquin Phoenix
Joaquin Phoenix has won critical acclaim across the board for his version of the Joker, topping it all with a Best Actor Oscar for is role. Todd Phillips’ film received an eight minute long standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival, with most of the clapping aimed at Phoenix, and it's become a huge, divisive success. Don’t go expecting a true comic-book version of the Joker, however The movie focuses instead on a story away from the official canon.
3. Jack Nicholson
In Batman (1989), Jack Nicholson’s villain stole the show. It was already known that Nicholson could portray lunacy with some scary reality from The Shining, but his Joker pushes that energy to its limits. Directed by Tim Burton, the film was everything you’d expect by him - quirky, outlandish, manic energy - and Nicholson was class casting and perfect folly to Michael Keaton’s Batman.
4. Mark Hamill
At the time - 1992 - it seemed like bizarre casting to allow earnest Luke Skywalker to play the baddest comic supervillain. And yet, it was a performance that put in him high demand for voicing for cartoon villains. He tapped into his inner psychopathic clown and the laugh just is The Joker. Similarly to his Batman counterpart, Kevin Conroy, he was that good at voicing The Joker he was asked to do it time and time again.
5. Cameron Monaghan
Cameron Monaghan was in the first episode of Gotham but it took many more seasons for him to become pretty much The Joker... even though it was never actually confirmed he was the true Clown Prince. The official line is that he played a character called J and was seen as both Jerome and Jeremiah Valeska. Confused? Yep, so are we but, as the proto-Joker, his acting throughout the show was superb and unhinged.
6. Cesar Romero
Putting aside the comic books, Cesar Romero set the standard for all to come. In Batman (1966), he nailed down the cackle and twisted humour. Cesaro may have been nearly 60 (some seven years older than Jack Nicholson) when he took on the role but he brought the theatre and grandiose nature of The Joker to life.
7. Zach Galifianakis
The Hangover star was certainly curveball casting for the supervillain, but it did fit the lighter, brighter style of The Joker in The Lego Batman Movie. After all, kids were actually watching this one. While it might be a step away from the murderous portrayals by Ledger or Nicholson, Galifianakis is the perfect arch-nemesis to Will Arnett’s Batman.
8. Jared Leto
It is fair to say that Jared Leto’s version of The Joker divided opinion. Playing the villain in 2016’s Suicide Squad, the 30 Seconds To Mars singer stepped away from what had been The Joker’s previous looks choosing to have bright green hair, tattoos and probably most dubiously a gold grill. That being said, Leto did tap into The Joker’s homicidal nature terrifying well, there’s no doubt he got the creepy, unsettling element of the villain perfected.