A lot of the world lives totally in the dark of the Mark Hamill voice acting extravaganzas out there in the pop-culture land. A big part of that world knows him as the measly, not too acting-savvy Luke Skywalker from the Star Wars original trilogy. A smaller part of that world has known his as the Joker from the Batman animated series.
However, looking beyond the veil, we see a plethora of Mark Hamill voice acting performances that are have for long been the acclaim of critics everywhere. And for good reason. In the following article, we’ll be looking at the intricate history woven between Mark Hamill and voice acting, as well as at some of his most exciting roles.
Fear not, though, for after this whole incursion into odd cartoonish voices, we’ll also talk a bit about what we can take out of the experience of this histrionically versatile actor.
How Did Mark Hamill’s Voice Acting Career Come to Be?
One may be tempted to think that Mark Hamill started to rise to voice acting (non-)fame after his Star Wars stint in 1977. However, few know that he had managed to land a few roles prior to that. Specifically, Hamill played Corey Anders on Jeannie and Ralph Bakshi in Wizards. Both of these roles are moderately obscure to be honest.
It would be long before Hamill would actually score the voice acting role of his lifetime – the Joker. As it’s often the case with auditions, it seems that what got Mark Hamill voice acting the master jester was a small role for the “Heart of Ice” episode of the first season of Batman: The Animated Series. Impressed with his performance, the execs behind the Warner Bros. classic decided to let him have a go at what they wanted to be a new and improved Joker.
This episode was in 1992, some 23 years ago from the time of writing. Fast-forward to 2016 and Hamill has played the laughing psycho in several animated series, movies, as well as video games (the Arkham series), and other media. Impressive enough yet? Of course!
Still – Hamill’s success as a voice actor goes beyond just the Joker. Apart from many other comic-based roles, including the Hobgoblin, Hamill most notably voiced Larry 3000 in Time Squad, Captain Stickybeard in Kids Next Door, and Fire Lord Ozai in Avatar: The Last Airbender. The myriad of other roles only stands as testimony to the incredible actor that Hamill is.
An Inside Look: Mark Hamill Voice Acting the Joker
Of course we were going to look into his portrayal of the famous Batman character. Yet, we thought it pertinent to go about it in list form. So here goes!
7 Interesting Points about Mark Hamill Voice Acting the Joker
1. The Maniacal Laughter Is the Joker’s Instrument
Hamill stated numerous times that his trademark as the Joker has always been the laugh. Sure, Jack Nicholson had the clownish, Heath Ledger had the one that made most sense, and Jared Leto had the over-the-top. Still, none of the three comes close to the tingling-down-your-spine sensation that Hamill’s shrieks of mirth bring.
2. The Joker Is a Psychopath-Comedian Singularity
Take one part Anthony Hopkins’s cannibalistic Hannibal Lecter, one part comedian Jerry Lewis, mix them up in a Bowl, add a dash of Hamill’s genius and voila! You’ve got yourself one surefire recipe for total chaos. Yeah, basically the Joker.
3. Mark Hamill Essentially Became the Joker, Really
Sure it may not show in his portrayal of the original Skywalker, but it does show in just about any other character he’s ever voiced. Surely, looking at his filmography, we get the feeling that he did indeed follow Vader towards the dark side, since most of all he seems perfectly suited to be the villain in everything he stars in.
4. Mistah J Doesn’t Like His Ploys Overruled
In one of the odd episodes where Bats has a smile put on his face, the Joker is displeased to find his love, Harley Quinn, going over his head to catch the bat. She, however, makes some fatal mistakes. First: she did not tell the Joker. Second: when she did tell him, she trusted him. Third: she explained the joke, which, as any comedian will tell you, spoils the whole point of it all.
5. It’s All a Game of Cat and Mouse
Or rather bat and mouse. Like with Tom and Jerry, neither Batman, nor the Joker can be complete without one another. That’s why, after the scene coming in at number 4, the Joker frees his arch-nemesis and sets him free.
6. The Joker Is a Compulsive Liar
A small, recurrent story tells us the Joker’s history with his father. Or his mother. Or some other relative. In a postmodern, metanarrative way, J’s background is always a carefully planned puzzle where the pieces are constantly in a state of flux. Thus, nothing is ever certain about him – which just adds to his aura of mystique.
7. The Joker Is a Fan of The Platters
Although we’re not certain which singer inspired his version, it’s clear the Joker is a sucker for love songs and that he has a refined musical taste. In the video game Batman: Arkham City, Hamill’s voice can be heard leading Mistah J into a whimsical, eerie, and at the same time beautiful cover of Only You. Listen below:
Is Mark Hamill Voice Acting His Way into History?
Surely his portrayal of the Joker will enter the annals of DC as one of the most instantly-recognizable. No matter how successful Heath Ledger was in film, it’s undoubtable that the Animated Series reached far more kids around the world. Thus, in a way, Hamill’s voice and character made the childhood of millions of children, everywhere they were ever broadcasted. Which, of course, spurred memes like the one below:
But let’s not forget all the other childhood-defining characters in the DC or Marvel universe that had Mark Hamill voice acting to bring them to life. Put them all together and his influence on pop culture is firmly held in place. So what can we all get out of Hamill’s wondrously whimsical voices?
Can Mark Hamill Voice Acting Teach Us Something Important?
I would argue yes. If we’re to Force-push aside his calling as the Tatooinian Jedi, we see a lot of lessons to be learned from Mark Hamill’s voice acting career alone. Here’s the gist of what we got:
1. Never Be Afraid You’ll Make a Fool of Yourself
If you’ve ever seen Mark Hamill voice acting in the studio, then you’ve probably come as close as you could’ve got to the Joker himself. He essentially transforms into his character. Wildly amusing and/or entertaining for the witnesses, Hamill just never cared. He went in that booth, script-in-hand and he gave all he could. That’s why I tend to agree with something I read recently: that voice acting is essentially turning into an otherworldly creature in your closet and then cashing the paycheck.
2. There’s No Such Thing as Typecasting
Mark Hamill grew up and rose to fame in a world where typecasting was a thing. Still, he managed to dodge the odd casting directors of the 80s and 90s and land another iconic character, albeit a cartoon. Some would’ve let him be Luke Skywalker for the rest of his acting life. Fortunately, that was not so. Today’s world has learned a lot from examples like his.
3. One Path Leads to Another and That’s How Acting Goes
No matter how you take it, you’ll never score your dream role by applying solely for that role. All you have to do is scamper about the acting world and you’ll eventually end up with some major connections. Then, all you have to do is express your interest in the part to someone that has some pull or even to your acting agent, if the part doesn’t come to you naturally that is. Hamill’s case was the latter.
4. We Shouldn’t Try the Joker, No Matter What
Of course that’s a joke. If you’re offered the job – hey, it pays the bills and it’s incredible. Still, there’s absolutely no chance for anyone to do a better job with the Joker than Hamill. Still, that’s not to say there can’t be a different version of the Joker. It may be darker, it may be funnier, but it’ll never be Hamill.
The Closing Scene
There are a lot of points to give to Hamill himself for an incredible career. However, something tells me we should wait some more since he so obviously has much, much more to say.
What are your thoughts about Mark Hamill voice acting the Joker? Are you one of the select few that probably, maybe disagrees? We’re open to arguments, suggestions, and even Star Wars fans – just keep your endless arguments about the right order on other domains