Before going on its winter hiatus for Season 3, The CW’s “Batwoman” introduced Gotham’s new Joker — or at least, a variant of him. And Nick Creegan, who’s stepping into the villainous clown shoes says fans should absolutely be worried about what he’s capable of when the series returns with new episodes Wednesday night.
So, here’s what we know. When Marquis Jet (Creegan) was a kid, he was on the school bus that got hijacked by the original Joker. During the encounter, the Clown Prince of Crime zapped Marquis with a joy buzzer. Since that day, he’s never been the same, so his mother Jada was trying to save him before he truly went to the dark side.
Naturally, plans went astray and Marquis is indeed fully embracing his villainous side, pulling off a hostile takeover of Wayne enterprises as the first step in his plan to mess with Gotham. So, what does the new Joker have in store? We asked Creegan himself — and asked what might be going on between Marquis and Mary.
Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
TheWrap: Nick Creegan. You’re the new Joker, man. Have you fully processed that yet?
Creegan: It’s crazy. It’s wild, actually. Yeah, I’ve done a lot of processing the past few weeks, months, you know? It’s still surreal to me. It’s been a wild ride for me. You know, the reception of the new Joker, being the first person of color to play this role — the messages and the love I’ve been getting has just been overwhelming. It’s been a fun ride.
Obviously, the Joker has been played by some absolute powerhouses in the past. Are there any pieces of past Joker performances that you’re kind of keeping in the back of your mind?
It’s funny because I dressed up, on Halloween, I dressed up as Jared Leto’s Joker back in like 2016 or 2015. And the thing that I really liked about his Joker was how different it was than every other rendition, right? He was wearing chains and he had gold teeth. And he was just like this new, edgy, different version of the Joker.
And for Marquis, being that he’s so new and he’s very much into fashion, he’s very much into being himself. Like, there’s a lot of vibes that come through that people probably relate to, especially being from New York and, you know, a little street, a little edgy, funny. So … I tried to take little elements of Jared Leto’s Joker, but also making sure that I weave in the maniacal laughter and just craze in the eyes that I saw in Heath Ledger or Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker. So there’s bits and pieces that I’ve taken from a lot of them, but [I’m] still making it very much [as] original as possible.
The laugh, for instance, is actually my own laugh. People are like, ‘Oh this Joker laugh is so good!’ I’m like, ‘Don’t think I’m actually crazy, but this is how I laugh whenever something’s really funny.’ So I have a really weird, interesting — I call it my auteur laugh. That’s mine. So yeah, there are bits and pieces from other Jokers, but it’s very much an over-exaggerated version of what Nick would be like in this situation.
One of the things I love about Marquis is that he really is a charming guy. How was it balancing that charming side and the side that’s swindling Ryan Wilder — that villainous side?
One of the most cool parts about this role is knowing that I eventually transitioned into the Joker, right? So it was interesting because this one fan tweeted the other day, she said ‘I rewatched all the episodes after Episode 7 and I could see Nick subtly injecting moments of the Joker into Marquis from the beginning.’
There were certain little smirks and things that were going on and the wheels are turning. So, from the beginning, I was just having so much fun being charming and feeding off people’s vulnerability, and you know, making people feel empathy on set. I didn’t really have a hard time balancing the charm because there was always this undertone of madness and craziness. And, you know, each director that I worked with on each episode always reminded me like, ‘Nick just remember to layer in that like little bit of insanity where it’s like, this dude — Is this dude OK? Now he’s fine, right?’
Did you have any input on the look of him? Because it really is cool, the orange suit and the purple hair.
I did actually! It was so exciting, that was one of the most fun parts. Whenever the wardrobe department and the hair department would ask me like, ‘So Nick, what do you think about this?’ Or ‘What do you want to do in terms of this look?’ I’m like, ‘Oh my God.’ But, you know, with wardrobe, they just got it right every time. I mean, each outfit that I got to wear as the Joker was just so dope.
I had really no — they asked me for my input. But I was like, ‘Maya, I really don’t have much to say. I love this. I want to wear this and I want to wear the other option you gave me and I want to wear the other options. So whatever you guys decide, I’m cool with.’
And then with the hair, that was really fun. Because in the beginning, our hair department head she asked me, she said, ‘Nick, do you want to dye your actual hair purple? Or would you rather have like cool extensions?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, I’ve never had extensions. Yeah, let’s do that. And can we do different hairstyle styles each episode?’ And so yeah, there are going to be a few different hairstyles that you see Marquis go through, which is really dope. All of them purple.
OK, I have to ask. I doubt you’ll be able to tell me, but I’ll be excited if you can. Do you do the full face makeup at any point?
I can’t divulge whether that happens or not. But I mean, everybody would would love to put on some face paint. I think that’s one of the most cool parts about the Joker. But also, you know, this version is brand new, and we had our own twist on it. So I think you’ll be excited to see the new look. In episode eight, you’ll see something that’s brand new that has never been done by any version of the Joker.
You did sort of get to do a version of the paint, like Joaquin Phoenix did, with the smearing of the blood on your face in Episode 5.
That was actually a very interesting scene to shoot. I went into that, [and] I was the only actor on set that evening. It was a Friday night. It was a late shoot. I created a whole playlist for that scene because it was dark. And I thought about a lot of like dark stuff to get me to that place.
And once I got to the mirror and put it on, it was just super quiet. I remember just feeling all these emotions. And yeah, it was good that people felt terrified watching that because it was a terrifying scene to shoot. The crew asked me if I was good, like ‘Do you need a break? Do you need anything?’ They made sure it was dead silent on set. Nobody was talking to me. People were just like, leaving me in a corner. It was pretty nuts.
But I love stuff like that. Because I’m such a happy-go-lucky person in regular life. Like I’m so goofy and fun, calm, cool, collected, all that stuff. But whenever I get to step out of my actual character as Nick, and transform into this other person, that’s what makes acting the most fun to me.
OK, looking forward now, instead of back, I need you to tell me what might be going on with Joker Marquis and Poison Mary. I can’t be shipping them, Nick.
I mean, you have to admit that would be the hottest evil power couple, right? Like, Mary and Marquis, Joker and Poison Ivy. So, there’s a party. And there’s a moment where the Joker and Poison Ivy meet and the aftermath of that meeting is f—ing mind-blowing. There’s a lot of evil, evil stuff that happens. And I can guarantee, after Marquis and Mary meet, that fans of the bat team are going to be very stressed out. Extremely stressed out.
How was it working with Nicole Kang? She’s been Mary for more than two seasons now, but she also got the villainous twist this season. Did you guys bond over that?
Nicole and I have been bonding before I even got to Vancouver. I spoke on the phone with Nicole before I moved to Vancouver, and we immediately became homies. So when I found out that she was becoming Poison Ivy, and I would be The Joker, obviously, we bonded on so many levels. Her being the first Asian American to play this role, me being the first Black guy to play this role, it was complete bonding over just that. And then, when we found out that we would have a scene together, we were just like, ‘Oh my God, this is the best thing ever.’ Fans are going to lose their minds when they see these two on screen. There’s going to be so much tension and like, bursts of energy. So yeah, we’ve bonded a lot over this.
One last thing Nick. Can you sum up what’s coming on “Batwoman” in three words?
Total f—ing chaos.