Nicholson Joker Appreciation Thread

Started by The Joker, Tue, 13 Oct 2020, 06:07

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Tue, 13 Oct 2020, 06:07 Last Edit: Tue, 17 Oct 2023, 21:56 by Silver Nemesis
Charlie Kaufman, screenwriter for "Being John Malkovich", "Adaptation", "Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind", ect, briefly discusses during a podcast interview a pitch he made to Jack Nicholson about reprising an ageing Joker for a character study film.

He doesn't give a precise year, but he makes a reference that it was in the pre cellphone days, so possibly late 1990s or very early 2000's?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wmk2VqFe2X0

From what little info is given, it sounds like this film would have been a Jack Nicholson jokerized version of both "About Schmidt", and "The Bucket List" to some extent. The timing of "About Schmidt" is really interesting, considering that film came out in 2002 and one of the underlying themes of the film, was Jack's character ageing and the feeling of uselessness.


"Imagination is a quality given a man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humour was provided to console him for what he is."

This is a bit curious because the late Nineties is around the time when "Batman 5" was rumored to have a cameo appearance by the Joker, which Nicholson himself seemed to tease in a quote he gave while doing press for (I think) As Good As It Gets.

It seems like The Universe or something wanted Nicholson to reprise that role in the Nineties.


Seeing Jack return as the Joker in 1999, chewing up the scenery in a (i assume) fear induced hallucinated sequence, would have been outstanding to watch! I don't recall anticipating 1997's Batman and Robin as much as I did 1995's Batman Forever, but I think Jack's participation in a 1999 Batman Triumphant/Unchained would have definitely had me counting the days until the release date.

For some reason, I kinda get the feeling that this pitch for a Joker movie might have been some time, or shortly after Warners decided to cancel the 5th Batman movie in the series. I can't imagine Jack not mentioning that he was already in prep to return as the Joker for a Batman movie when this pitch was being made, unless the deal (and movie) had already been dropped at that point.

For all we know, the concept of playing a character who is ageing and feels ineffective as a result, might have been something that appealed to him, and thus was a seed that was planted in Jack's mind during the pitch, which resulted in him later starring in 2002's "About Schmidt". Even though there's virtually no similarities between the characters other than what Kaufman was pitching here.


"Imagination is a quality given a man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humour was provided to console him for what he is."


Via EOnline/Archive.org



Well, The Pledge was released in 2001, and these comments from Jack Nicholson might have been following the aforementioned one-off Joker movie pitch from Charlie Kaufman. As it comes across like Nicholson himself had his own idea in resurrecting his Joker.

It's abundantly clear that Jack had a real zest for playing the Joker (even years following his portrayal), and not gonna lie, I would still love to know exactly what he had in mind. 


"Imagination is a quality given a man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humour was provided to console him for what he is."

It's stupefying to me that this never happened. Nicholson was easily one of the most popular aspects of B89. People are still in awe of his performance today.

If ever there was a no-brainer...

Quote from: thecolorsblend on Thu,  2 Jun  2022, 21:00
It's stupefying to me that this never happened. Nicholson was easily one of the most popular aspects of B89. People are still in awe of his performance today.

If ever there was a no-brainer...

Very true.

Another interesting subtext about this, is that both Nicholson and Kaufman's pitches were basically in that post-Batman Unchained phase where a 5th Batman film (presumably featuring only a Jack Nicholson Joker hallucination cameo via Scarecrow fear toxin due to Scarecrow and Harley Quinn being the main villains) was no longer in active development. Nicholson's pitch, to his credit, sounds like he was aiming for a full blown return, rather than what's often been stated about his participation as a glorified cameo in the ultimately cancelled Batman Unchained.

In addition, it's not like WB were fully prepared to scrap the Burton/Schumacher Batman continuity by 2001 anyways, as the cancelled Wolfgang Peterson/Akiva Goldsman script for "Batman vs. Superman" was turned in the following year (2002), and featured a story that could easily be viewed as an extension of the 1989-1997 continuity (retired Batman, dead allies, Joker return from the dead, ect).

You have to wonder, if Jack Nicholson had been successful in jump starting the franchise again during the early 2000's by signing on for a starring role as the Joker again, what would the effects of that have been? Would Burton had, as a consequence, been a little more interested in returning as director to bookend the series if he was asked to? Would Keaton?

Given it was the early 2000's, and following the success that New Line Cinema saw with Blade, and Fox with X-Men, I would like to believe that WB would have been less sensitive about McDonalds parents, and more prone to give creative leeway as they did back in B89, but then again, it's WB. They have a history of being note happy, and overly reactive to their very own detriment. Plus, this time frame would have been shortly after the disastrous AOL/Time Warner merger, so who's to say?

In any event, it would just have been a real treat seeing Jack back as the Joker one more time. That much is for sure.


"Imagination is a quality given a man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humour was provided to console him for what he is."


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pcv9BRdF_Qk&t=3s

Pretty good video going over the planned but cancelled resurrections and references of Jack Nicholson's Joker during the 1992-1997 Burton/Schumacher era, and beyond (which this thread was focusing upon for the most part).

The host, Ben. does a good job in providing information about these examples. Even going into the short-lived Newspaper strip that was loosely connected to B89, and references to Nicholson's Joker from the Peter David "Batman Forever" novelization in 1995.

I don't believe I've ever even heard of the notion of having Nicholson's Joker pulling a 'Wally Keefe' and causing Billy Dee Williams' Harvey Dent to become Two-Face by suicide as a cold opening of sorts for "Batman Returns", but it's pretty wacky. As a kid, I probably would have liked it since I seem to have a vague memory of, following seeing the "Batman Returns" trailer for the first time, hoping to see Jack Nicholson's Joker in BR in at least a flashback or something since I was (and still am) such a unabashed Nicholson Joker stan. However, trashing this idea was definitely for the best. Having Joker actually surviving a, what is said to be around a 800 feet tall fall from the Gotham Cathedral, is a bit too "King Kong Lives" for my tastes. Plus it would have been just a cameo at that. Hell, I'd rather they have done some variation of "The Joker walks the Last Mile" where he's brought back from the dead, rather than actually surviving the fall.

Ben also makes a good point about the rejected Sam Hamm script for "Batman 2" where it's revealed that Jack Napier was hired to kill the Waynes by the 'Five Families of Gotham' not being such a radical idea, since Bill Finger did a similar retcon with Joe Chill being hired by Lew Moxon back in 1956.

Definitely worth checking out if you have the time.


"Imagination is a quality given a man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humour was provided to console him for what he is."


The AMC Orange 30 Theater in CA. once used a image of Jack Nicholson's Joker adjoining posters featuring an assortment of classic film characters.



"Imagination is a quality given a man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humour was provided to console him for what he is."

I was watching an interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger on the Rich Eisen Show, and I saw this great portrait of Nicholson as both Jack Torrance and the Joker.

QuoteJonathan Nolan: He [Batman] has this one rule, as the Joker says in The Dark Knight. But he does wind up breaking it. Does he break it in the third film?

Christopher Nolan: He breaks it in...

Jonathan Nolan: ...the first two.

Source: http://books.google.com.au/books?id=uwV8rddtKRgC&pg=PR8&dq=But+he+does+wind+up+breaking+it.&hl=en&sa=X&ei


Jack's has had so many great roles in his career, but it's also safe to say that his portrayals as The Joker, and Jack Torrance are decidedly in the top tier range of his most popular performances.

https://www.youtube.com/shorts/cemL2F-cmJI

--

Revuecinema recently had a 35th anniversary screening, which featured a new Jack Nicholson Joker poster for the film.



"Imagination is a quality given a man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humour was provided to console him for what he is."