Batman director Tim Burton explains why he often could barely understand what Jack Nicholson was saying to him on the set of the 1989 film.
Burton’s dark and stylish take on the Caped Crusader saw actor Michael Keaton take on the role for the first time.
Batman was met with a positive response from audiences and critics alike, with particular praise levied at Nicholson’s portrayal of the Joker, a Gotham City crime lord/ supervillain.
Although Nicholson’s Joker dies at the end of the film, Keaton would reprise his role in Burton’s Batman Returns in 1992, this time facing off against the Penguin (Danny DeVito) and Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer).
In a recent interview with Empire (via SlashFilm), Burton recalls Nicholson’s unique method of communicating often left the director scratching his head on the Batman set.
According to Burton, Nicholson has a very ‘abstract’ and ‘non-linear’ way of speaking that he often couldn’t completely understand, even if he did usually get the gist of things in the end.
‘Jack has a very abstract way of speaking. So he would say things to me and I’d go, ‘Yeah, I get it,’ and then I’d go to someone, Burton said.
‘What the f*** was he just talking about?’ So there was this weird communication: non-linear, non-connective … But it was very clear to me. I felt like we had a good sort of caveman-style communication,’ he said.
That said, Burton went on to say in the interview that – despite communication issues – Nicholson took the young director under his wing.
The Sleepy Hollow director said: ‘[Nicholson] protected me and nurtured me, kept me going, by just not getting too overwhelmed with the whole thing.
Since Nicholson portrayed Gotham’s Clown Prince of Crime back in 1989, several other actors have tried their hands at the role, including Heath Ledger, Jared Leto, and, most recently, Barry Keoghan.
Despite the widespread love for Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight, however, many fans still name Nicholson’s take on the character as their favorite.