Willem Dafoe ‘Fantasized’ About Playing a ‘Joker Imposter’ in Mash-Up vs. Joaquin Phoenix

"Spider-Man: No Way Home" star Dafoe said he "fantasized" about co-starring with Phoenix as a "Joker imposter."
Willem Dafoe4th Annual Patron of the Artists Awards, Arrivals, Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts, Los Angeles, USA - 07 Nov 2019
Chelsea Lauren/Variety/Shutterstock

Well, this is a superhero multiverse we didn’t quite expect.

After reprising his role as the Green Goblin in “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” Willem Dafoe has his sights set on another comic book baddie: Batman’s nemesis, the Joker… or an “imposter” take on him.

During a cover story interview with British GQ, Dafoe hinted at expanding his role in DC and Marvel films by way of a “Joker” sequel. “There is something interesting about, like, if there was a Joker imposter,” Dafoe explained. “So it would be possible to have not dueling Jokers, but someone that [claims] to be the Joker that isn’t the Joker.”

While fan videos have long-heralded Dafoe’s physical similarities to comic book incarnations of the famed Joker, Dafoe has yet to take on the Batman villain. Jack Nicholson and Jared Leto both previously portrayed the character, while Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix won Academy Awards for their respective takes on the Joker. Mark Hamill has voiced the cartoon iteration of the Joker across various animated Batman series.

Yet there’s something about Phoenix’s haunting performance that inspired Dafoe.

“That kind of opens up the possibility of an interesting story, particularly if you had Joaquin Phoenix’s ‘Joker’ and then you had someone who was either imitating or riffing off what he did,” Dafoe mused. “I fantasized about that.”

Since the latest Batman installment doesn’t tackle the Joker — instead, almost every other major villain will appear — it’s not unthinkable to imagine Dafoe may get his wish sooner rather than later. Especially as superhero universes and parallel timelines are increasingly folding into each other and themselves. (See “Spider-Man: No Way Home” as the latest example.)


That is, if Dafoe has any space in his schedule. The four-time Oscar winner has most recently starred in “Spider-Man,” “Nightmare Alley,” “The French Dispatch,” and “The Northman” out in April. And Dafoe will make his “Saturday Night Live” hosting debut on Jan. 24 with musical guest Katy Perry.

“You prepare just to relax yourself and get ready to engage, so when opportunities come you can receive them in a thoughtful way and really play,” Dafoe previously told IndieWire about his work ethic. “The size of the projects are varied. It feels very open. I love nothing more than the idea of having a lot of work ahead of me. Performing and making movies is still mysterious to me. Lately, I’ve been lucky that things have turned me on. The day that I stop engaging in people who are interested in working with me, I’ll have to reassess everything.”

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