It seems that even the evilest man in Gotham requires sleep. When filming Batman films with Tim Burton, Jack Nicholson often slept in his Joker makeup.
Many tourists to Gotham City complain that the city is too dark to sleep in. But if you’re the one terrorizing that made-up city and the greatest Batman villain ever, a nap isn’t a big deal. Michael Keaton, who played Bruce Wayne in the 1989 superhero film Batman, revealed that his co-star Jack Nicholson often napped on the set of the movie during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
In Tim Burton’s DC film Batman, Keaton played the title character opposite Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the notoriously evil Joker. If you’re familiar with DC, you know that the clown villain has a distinctive appearance: a whitened-out face, green hair, and a creepy red smile.
Therefore, Jackson had to put on makeup daily before shooting began, and Keaton claimed that the legendary actor would start snoring almost immediately after sitting in the chair to get ready for the action movie.
Keaton said, “Every morning, it would go like this,” before performing the feat. He’d snore his way through the day: “He’d walk in and go’morning Keats,’ and then he’d go into makeup, which was extensive. That’s a smart move.”
The Batman actor went on to describe Nicholson’s incredible sleeping skills, recalling an incident that had surprised him. “Sports were a big topic of conversation, but you had to know that the BBC didn’t have any programming back then. So you’d be frantically searching for something to watch, some kind of sporting event,” Keaton said before describing his conversation with Nicholson.
After assuming the role of his co-star once more, Keaton leaned back in his chair and said, with eyes closed, “Morning Keats.” Saying, “Damn good darts tournament last night,” and then immediately snoring again. At the conclusion of his recollection, Keaton said, “My hand to god.”
Nicholson, however, did play a significant role in The Joker’s makeup, despite his propensity for napping. The actor told The Hollywood Reporter how he and Burton collaborated closely to perfect the look, with the two sometimes disagreeing over how vibrant the villain’s green hair should be.
You won’t find him with neon green hair in the comics. Nicholson reflected on Burton’s desire for vivid green hair color for the Joker, saying, “You might also see it as a lighting effect.”
Jackson’s suggestion to tone down the color palette was successful in the end. He explained, “We tested it on the wig, and he saw right away that it was too bright.” Get a new hairstyle. A lot less grass and trees. There’s a lot less of the wigs that scare people in there.”
So, whether he was awake or not, Nicholson always gave 110% to his portrayal of Batman. So, Gotham, beware and check out our Batman movie guide for inspiration.