We thought this week’s Mount Rushmore would be comparatively easy. After all, how many people have even played the Joker? Six? Seven, if you count Zach Galifianakis in Lego Batman. It should be fairly easy to pick the four best Jokers of all time, right?

Wrong. After a lot of back and forth and debate we’re able to present to you our final, definitive Mount Rushmore of Jokers…along with a brief explanation for each.

  • 1.) Heath Ledger

He won an Academy Award for his portrayal. It was powerful, riveting and unique. It’s so iconic that actors playing villains henceforward should be warned, “Don’t try and over-Ledger it”. If only someone had told Jesse Eisenberg before he did his “Heath” Luthor in Batman v. Superman.

  • 2.) Joaquin Phoenix

This one would have been a tough call, seeing as how “Joker” only came out over the weekend and plenty of people haven’t seen it yet. I say “would have been”…had not Phoenix turned in one of the finest acting performances not only of HIS career but of ANY actor’s career. He should win an Oscar for Best Actor. Seriously, what he did with Joker is AMAZING.

  • 3.) Jack Nicholson

I think we’ve forgotten just HOW good Jack’s Joker really was. Sure, it looks campy now but at the time it was “dark”, “menacing” and “edgy”. It was the perfect halfway marker between the utter campiness of Cesar Romero and the serious psychological study of Ledger and, later, Phoenix.

If you still have a problem with this choice ask yourself, “Who is the most quotable Joker?” Yes, Ledger’s “Why so serious?” is iconic, but think of all these gems:

“You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?”

“Where does he get those wonderful toys?”

And, “Never rub another man’s rhubarb!”


  • 4.) Mark Hamill

If you just made that face…quizzical and not-quite-understanding…then that means you’re over 40. Anyone under 40 definitely knows the Joker from Batman: The Animated Series was voiced by Luke Skywalker. For many of those folks, Hamill IS the definitive Joker.

And now, the Honorable mentions:

Cesar Romero

Silly and campy…which is EXACTLY what he was supposed to be in the 1960’s TV version. This Batman was A LOT of fun, from an era before we had to worry that insane people might be inspired to commit violent crimes by a comic book character.

As far as leaving the O.G. off the list, look at it this way: Joaquin Phoenix lost 55 pounds to play the Joker. Ledger definitely went to a dark head-space and MAY have even died for his portrayal. Cesar Romero, great as he was, refused to shave his moustache.

Jared Leto

This is the Joker that I don’t think gets enough respect. The main problem with Leto’s Joker is that he was in a bad movie. And, he was only in it for, what, 10 minutes? Of all the problems with Suicide Squad , and there were many, Leto’s Joker wasn’t one of them. I wish I could’ve seen more.

Also, as part of his “method” Leto sent dead rats as presents to Margo Robbie and Will Smith. I for one appreciate that level of dedication from an artist.

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