Batman: The Animated Series (partially found Tim Curry performance 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 and deemed him 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 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.
Aftermath and Availability
While the casting change has been known for years, in 2017 it sparked a sudden interest after Tim Curry revealed 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, with Bruce Timm admitting unsatisfaction over Curry's performance, feeling that it didn't sound "organic", as well as pressure from writer/producer Alan Burnett, whereas Andrea Romano expressed regret over his recast.
On September 5th 2021, Paul Machi, author of the podcast Stay 'Tooned!, released a two-hour long documentary on Batman: The Animated Series, which includes interviews with several producers, directors and voice actors involved in the series' production. In a chapter dedicated to the creation of Joker and Harley Quinn, clips from the episode "The Last Laugh" are shown with Tim Curry's original recordings, provided by one of the guests credited in the additional archival footage card, albeit unspecified.
"Christmas with The Joker" and "The Last Laugh" are to date the only known episodes from the series in which Tim Curry voiced the Joker, with the latter being the only one with recordings available to the public. It is unknown how many episodes Curry recorded before being replaced by Mark Hamill, though various sources claim that Curry recorded only four episodes while others claim that he recorded the entire first season. The surviving recordings are likely stored within Warner Bros.' archives, or kept by one of the show's producers, as is the case with "The Last Laugh".
- Mike Henry's Batman publicity stills (lost photographs advertising CBS "Batman" TV series; 1964)
- Batman Dracula (partially found Andy Warhol film; 1964)
- Batman Meets Godzilla (lost Japanese film treatment of unproduced crossover film; 1960s)
- Batman Fights Dracula (lost unofficial Filipino comedy parody film; 1967)
- Batman: Clean and Dirty (found "Sesame Street" animated segment; 1970)
- Batman And The New Robin (partially found unproduced animated TV series; 1988)
- Batman: A Death in the Family (partially lost unfinished "Jason Todd lives" version of comic; 1988)
- Batman Forever (partially lost "Schumacher cut" of DC superhero film sequel; 1995)
- The Dark Knight (lost build of cancelled multi-platform action game based on Batman film; 2008)
- Gotham High (lost production material of cancelled Batman animated TV series; 2009)
- The Dark Knight Trilogy (lost deleted scenes of DC superhero film trilogy; 2005-2012)
- Batgirl (lost HBO MAX superhero film; 2022)
- The People's Joker (unauthorized trans joker movie; 2022)
- 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