Richard Strange Interview - Joker Goon actor in Batman (1989)
by Paul (ral)

Let's be honest...we all thought The Joker's goons were cool as hell back in 1989! They added another layer to Jack Nicholson's Joker madness through their own actions.

The actors who portrayed them were all very distinct - and none more so than the goon played by Richard Strange.

Richard has worked in every field of the performing arts. He has continued to write and record songs, release CDs, appear in films and onstage around the world as well as play live concerts.

In short, he's a very busy man - but he was kind enough to talk to Batman-Online recently about his time on the Batman set...all those 25 years ago!


Paul: Can you tell us how you became involved with the production? Did you have to audition for the part?
Richard: I auditioned in the normal way at the Production company’s offices in London. Must have been 1988. I was thrilled to be asked - though I had no idea then just how big the movie would become.

Paul: Prior to production did you have much awareness of the Batman character?
Richard: I remember being a fan of the TV series with Adam West and Burt Ward

Paul: I assume Batman was your first major Hollywood production. What were your initial thoughts when you walked onto the Pinewood set?
Richard: It was my first Hollywood movie, though not my first movie…I had done Mona Lisa with Bob Hoskins and a couple of other British Pictures. The set, by Anton Furst, now sadly no longer with us, was astonishing. It was like arriving in Gotham on vacation! Dark, eerie, gothic. I had seen Anton’s work in Company of Wolves and was already a fan.

Paul: How long were you on set for?
Richard: Around 6/8 weeks as I remember. We were always on standby in case they needed some Joker material but Jack wasn’t around. He flitted in and out of London as I recall. Those purple leather jackets always signified the Joker.

Paul: From what I gather, there were many goons on set. Am I right in saying you were all grouped together during production?
Richard: I think there were only 6 featured goons..Tracey Walter, Carl Chase, Mac McDonald, Phil Tan, and a couple of others - Terry and George.

Paul: What was the feeling amongst you all during production?
Richard: Excitement - like kids in a toyshop. The movie was big, the budget was big, and Nicholson was the biggest of them all. Although I remember him saying to me “When Brando dies, every single actor moves up one place”.

Paul: Was it an enjoyable experience?
Richard: Totally. Nothing but good memories.

Paul: Had you known any of the other main goon actors previously?
Richard: I had worked with Carl and Mac before on commercials.

Paul: How did you find working with Tim [Burton] and Jack [Nicholson]?
Richard: Burton was a gas - he had only done Beetlejuice before, and was as much in awe of what was happening as we were.

Jack was great fun - exactly as you imagined he would be - cool, dry humour, charming, but totally aware of what a star he was. Easy to chat to in make-up, too. He called me “Tiger Lips” cos of the scars they stuck on me. I remember him singing “Good Vibrations” and telling me he used to be a lifeguard!

He did something very kind for his dresser Dave Whiteing after the production finished.

When Dave had a nasty motorcycle accident, many months after the end of the production, and was hospitalised for several weeks with severe injuries, with no insurance, no income and ever increasing pile of bills, an unsolicited cheque from Jack arrived to get him out of his financial hole.

I was very impressed by that generosity.

Paul: How did you find Tim Burton as a director?
Richard: Inspired, original, approachable, FUN

Paul: Jack obviously stole the show. What was it like to witness his performances in the flesh?
Richard: I learned masses just watching him deliver three different takes three different ways. A consummate pro. I asked him how he thought the movie would do and he said “About 350million dollars…!” he wasn’t far wrong. At the end of the day, after shooting the last scene we would sometimes share a car back to base and he would say, “ Ah well, Tiger Lips…another day, another Ninety Thousand Dollars!!” his salary, not mine, sadly!!

Paul: What was the first scene you filmed?
Richard: I think it was the scene in the boardroom. I was TERRIFIED!

Paul: You were in some of the most memorable scenes in the Batman film franchise, in-particular the museum trashing and alley fight sequences. We would love to hear any memories you have of those.
Richard: Nicholson saw me doing the dancing in front of the ballet painting, and stole it! I learned a good lesson- never show your best moves in rehearsal! Loved slapping the Rembrandt!

In the alley sequence I insisted on doing my own stunt in the fight scene with Batman, getting knocked over the car bonnet!

Paul: Did the museum scenes allow for much improvisation? It must have been great fun destroying all that stuff!
Richard: Yea we had Carte Blanche to make that scene unforgettable. We trashed the Flugelheim!! Like naughty kids, but we got paid for it! Life doesn’t get any better!

Paul: In the alley fight scene you and the other goon actors get a chance to talk. It is a great opportunity for us fans to get to know the goons a little better. You all have distinctive appearances. Was that something you were all allowed to work on?
Richard: Yes… I had the scar on my lip- they actually stuck my lip with glue every morning! Also the cap and shades were my idea.

Paul: Did your character have a name? A backstory?
Richard: No - I think I was Goon number 3 or 4 in the script. No backstory to speak of.

Paul: One nice touch was that the goon jackets implied a sort of ranking system with play cards. Some goons had 1 card, some had 4. Did you get to keep the jacket or any other memorabilia?
Richard: Yes we kept the jackets..the cap was mine anyway - still got it somewhere - I just added the badges!

Paul: A major part, in terms of extras, was the parade sequence. How long did it take to shoot that?
Richard: A lot of long nights - cold winter nights-November/December. I remember wearing thermal underwear and heavy winter boots, and getting indoors between shots! A few years later I wore those boots in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan when I was shooting a TV episode there. Mid winter. The coldest I have ever been…and the rubber soles of the boots literally shattered from the cold!

Paul: There is a great bit where you become a step for Nicholson to get off the parade float. Who's idea was it?
Richard: It was my idea to be Jack’s stepping stone - he loved it and so did Tim. 

Paul: You add a lot to Nicholson's "He stole my balloons" scene, if you don't mind me saying, I love your mannerisms in the background as you put in your shades.
Richard: Thanks. They were among the last scenes we shot, so by then we had a bit of a rapport, and we had the confidence to contribute ideas.

Paul: Were you involved in much publicity after the movie's release?
Richard: Not really, as I was already doing a world tour of a stage production of Hamlet from 1989 for 2 years immediately afterwards. The theatre director, a Russian maestro called Yuri Lyubimov, was VERY impressed that I was in Batman. My best pal on that production, Richard Durden, was also in Batman

Paul: Thanks so much for your time Richard. It's still a thrill all these years later for fans like myself to hear about the production.
Richard: My pleasure Paul.



To find out more about Richard's music and performance projects (past and present) visit his site  There you will find behind the scenes photos from Batman, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, Gangs of New York and more. There is also info on the site on how to buy his music if you wish to explore that.

Richard also informs me that his autobiography (also available on his site) is the place to find out "all the dope" on his time on Batman - as well as other films and the Sex Pistols!!!

Oh - and watch Richard's awesome acoustic cover of the Velvet Underground's "Pale Blue Eyes" with none other than the new Doctor Who - Peter Capaldi!

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