History has shown us that there exists a singularly iconic movie role that consistently elicits thunderous applause from critics and audiences alike. This enigmatic film character has been brought to life by a pantheon of legendary actors over the years, with each new performer leaving an indelible mark on the character’s twisted legacy. Now, The Last of Us actor Bella Ramsey would like a chance to have their name etched into the hallowed halls of Joker lore. But does the 20-year-old really have what it takes to play the Clown Prince of Crime in James Gunn’s DCU?
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The Joker Isn’t Just Any Villain
Terrorising the streets of Gotham just because he can, running rings of wild clowns and bands of misfits, and practically torturing the woman who loves him, again, just because he can, The Joker is a real work. While some actors escaped relatively unscathed after playing the role, many who win the role and lean into it report losing something in bringing The Joker to life.
Jack Nicholson was arguably the first of the more iconic portrayals, changing the character’s public perception forever and setting a precedent that other actors now had to beat. Jack Nicholson was nominated for a Golden Globe and a BAFTA after his time in the role.
One of the most riveting performances as The Joker that left the world in awe was Heath Ledger. His name is synonymous with the role, changing it forever in 2008 and becoming the new portrayal to match. He received more nominations and awards for the role than he could possibly carry. Despite his pride in the film and his self-reported love for the experience, fans have always wondered if his portrayal formed a part of the tragedy that befell him in the years that followed, forever hanging a dark and dangerous shroud over the role, daring people to try and beat the iconic performance.
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Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal of the Joker in Joker, the first standalone version of the film, was chilling. More than telling the story of a man who had simply fallen into madness, Joker took audiences with him down the rabbit hole, showing the injustice he went through on the streets of Gotham City and completely changing the narrative of why he rose against the elite of Gotham. Phoenix famously won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance.
Barry Keoghan is one of the most recent actors to take on the role of Joker. He. He did so in Matt Reeves’ The Batman with a new take on the iconic character, again bringing him to a new light. Although his scene was cut from the film and only appeared in a deleted scene, his version of Joker was terrifying. Almost every other version of the Joker wears makeup and has a terrifyingly wide smile out of choice. However, this one has a congenital disease that has caused his deformity, and we can just imagine how that has shaped his worldview.
Bella Ramsey’s Impressive Acting At A Young Age
Bella Ramsey arguably had their breakout moment on one of the biggest TV shows of all time, on HBO’s Game of Thrones as Lyanna Mormont from 2016-2019, starting when the star was only 13 years old.
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Working with HBO again, Ramsey has also become the live-action face of Ellie, the beloved young protagonist of The Last of Us.
Luckily for those of us who fell in love with their portrayal and how hard HBO was working to be loyal to the video game that inspired it, Variety reported that not only will there be a second season, but HBO Casey Bloys announced prospective dates for both production and a hopeful premiere projection date at a press conference last Thursday morning.
Even a beloved series like HBO’s The Last of Us has been affected by the WAG and SAG-AFTRA strikes, pushing back all the production company’s initial plans. At the very least, they seem ready to continue the story, with Ramsey reprising Ellie’s role.
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The Last of Us Season 2 is set to start production in early 2024, with a hopeful premiere date set in 2025.
Where Does Ramsey Go Next?
In a recent interview, Bella Ramsey told LADbible what type of role they would like to look at after their journey in The Last of Us comes to an end, or at least the conclusion of season 2, and Ramsey had an interesting take. Instead of continuing the role of the protagonist, Ramsey feels like they are ready to take on a villain, or as the non-binary star calls them, a baddie.
“I’ve not really played a villain yet. So, I want to play a baddy.” Ramsey’s desired villain can’t just be any old baddy, however, and needs to be one with nuance, complexity, and an intricate backstory and manner.
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Hearing this, LADbible suggested one of the most loved and seemingly complex comic villains of all time, the Clown Prince of Crime himself, The Joker, and Bella Ramsey agreed that it would be fascinating and that he had crossed their mind as well; notably said, “someone really interesting like that.”
“I’ve not really played a villain yet. So I want to play a baddie. But like a really interesting, intricate, complex baddie,” they explained.
“I’ve not really played a villain yet. So I want to play a baddie. But like a really interesting, intricate, complex baddy. The Joker, someone really interesting like that.”
Younger actors have excelled in playing Joker in the past, but never quite as well as these older and much more experienced actors have, bringing a depth and heart to the role that just isn’t achievable without the amount of hurt that goes into giving the character the complexity and darkness that they have over the years.
However, no one says that this kind of wisdom has to come with age. If Bella Ramsey’s BAFTA-winning role as Kelsey Morgan in BBC’s Time is anything to go off of, an unnervingly well-portrayed young woman who is an addict and a convict, there is a real chance that Bella Ramsey could have the prowess to pull off The Joker. That chance doesn’t make up for the massive shoes that need filling for a role like this, and judging from Bella Ramsey’s wording, they seem well aware of the monumentality of that task.
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Their BAFTA-winning performance was simultaneously their most challenging but also their favourite performance. However, according to the same interview with LADbible, they clearly feel ready to take on more complex roles.
What do you think? Does Bella Ramsey have what it takes to play a character like The Joker?