Batman: The Animated Series - Tim Curry performance as the Joker (lost audio recordings from animated series; 1992)
Batman: The Animated Series is an animated television series produced by DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation between 1992 and 1995. Critically acclaimed for its voice acting, themes and faithfulness to its source material, the series paved the way to the DC Animated Universe and remains to this day one of the most influential animated series of all time.
The series is probably best known for Mark Hamill’s performance as the Joker, however, Tim Curry was originally appointed to voice Batman’s main villain.
During the production of the second episode of the series, "Christmas with the Joker", where the eponymous character makes his debut, the producers felt unsatisfied with Curry’s performance in his recording sessions, deemed unsuitable for the character. Despite Bruce Timm and Andrea Romano, the series’ creator and voice director, respectively, insisting on keeping the role to Tim Curry, it ultimately landed on Mark Hamill. John Glover was also auditioned to play the Joker, but ended up voicing The Riddler.
Tim Curry ended up voicing miscellaneous characters in Batman: The Animated Series, such as a henchman in the episode "Fear of Victory", and an animatronic clown in "Be a Clown". It is heavily speculated that the laughter that comes from the animatronic clown in the latter episode is taken from Curry’s recording sessions as the Joker.
Apart from "Christmas with The Joker", it is unknown how many episodes Tim Curry recorded, though sources claim that he had done at least four episodes before being replaced by Mark Hamill, while others claim that he recorded the entire first season of the series. If the recordings do exist, it's likely that they remain in Warner Bros.’ archives.
While the casting change has been known for years, in 2017 it sparked a sudden interest after Tim Curry revealing that he had bronchitis when he recorded the first episode, which was the biggest factor for his replacement; around the same time, an interview with Bruce Timm and Andrea Romano was made for the comic book-themed magazine Back Issue!, where they talk about the replacement and the impact it had on the series.
- Back Issue! interview with various crew members which mention Tim Curry's role as the Joker on page 6. Retrieved 16 Mar '20
- ScreenRant's article about Tim Curry's uncredited role in the episode "Be a Clown". Retrieved 16 Mar '20
- Audio portion from a Q&A session with Tim Curry explaining why he got replaced by Mark Hamill as the Joker. Retrieved 16 Mar '20