Old School Americana & Nostalgia


‘Batman’: How Jack Nicholson’s Makeup Allergy Changed The Joker’s Look

‘Batman’: How Jack Nicholson’s Makeup Allergy Changed The Joker’s Look

While Jack Nicholson was an amazing Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman, reports reveal that the actor’s makeup allergy changed the appearance of the Caped Crusader’s most well-known foe. 

Collider reports that Nick Dudman, who was in charge of the Batman makeup team, once spoke about the Joker’s development. He also shared how Nicholson’s allergy helped create a new design of what the character would ultimately look like. The actor is allergic to Spirit gum, which is described as an adhesive that is used for costume prosthetics. This includes wigs and masks. 

To avoid allergic reactions, Dudman did molds cast from Nicholson’s face. The expressions were neutral as well as the more manic and extreme smiles the actor was able to create. In return, Dudman was able to use the Spirit gum on top of the molds. 

Batman, which hit theaters in 1989, followed the Dark Knight as he fought crime and faced his major enemy, Jack Napier, who is the criminal that becomes the “clownishly homicidal” Joker. Starring in the film alongside Keaton and Nicholson were Kim Basinger, Michael Gough, Billy Dee Williams, and Robert Wuhl. 

‘Batman’ Jack Nicholson Once Said He Wanted His Joker to Scare Children 

During an interview with Hollywood Reporter, Jack Nicholson stated the goal was to make his Joker scary for children in the Batman audience.

“I was afraid because of my feel of the television series and the way movies tend to be done and talked about. I didn’t want this to go through the normal, ‘Let’s brighten it up for the kids,’” Nicholson said. 

Meanwhile, Nicholson pointed out that he actually took his Joker role more seriously than anyone else in the Batman production. He also believed that children would respond to a darker version of his villain persona. “My early experience in working for an audience full of children: the more you scare them, the more they like it,” the longtime actor explained. “The worse you are, the better because that was my response to the Joker. This is a hateful occurrence, this man, if you looked at it literally. Every kid loves this guy, I believe.”

Although he was fighting Nicholson fighting against each other on the Batman set, Keaton revealed to the Hollywood Reporter the veteran actor’s advice to him. “Jack says, “Keats, if this thing’s a hit, you can go out and do four or five flops and not even worry about it.” And maybe it wasn’t four or five, but it used to be you got away with three and it didn’t matter. Not now, man. You’ve got one miss, which is f— up.”

In regards to the biggest risks in acting, Keaton said actors need to commit to their work.