Hollywood is loaded with stories of big-name actors turning down roles that they later came to regret. In John Lithgow’s case, director Tim Burton wanted him to play the Caped Crusader’s ultimate nemesis, The Joker, in his 1989 DC superhero classic “Batman” starring Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader.
In a 2017 interview with Vulture, Lithgow said he was considered to play the Clown Prince of Crime before the role went to Jack Nicholson. Part of the reason he didn’t land the role was that he didn’t think he was right for the part. Apparently, those feelings of inner turmoil showed in his audition, too. He recalled, “My worst audition was for Tim Burton for ‘Batman.’ I have never told anyone this story, but I tried to persuade him I was not right for the part, and I succeeded.” Lithgow went on to say that, while he didn’t think it was a major concern at the time, it soon became clear how poorly his audition was received when he learned Burton and his crew were pursuing Nicholson and Robin Williams for the part.