Troy Baker wishes people didn’t know he was the Joker.
The gaming voice actor is playing the next iteration of one of the most iconic supervillains ever in the upcoming Batman: Arkham Origins. The Joker has been played by a swath of actors yet mastered by only a handful. Baker, whose vocal talents have graced two of the biggest games of the year, doesn’t want people’s impressions of him to affect how they view his Joker.
“I don’t ever want it to be about me. A friend of mine told me, ‘The difference between fame and notoriety is fame is when people know you, and notoriety is when people know your work,'” Baker said during an interview at New York Comic Con. “The first one is not respectable, but the second one is, because that leaves a legacy.”
Baker’s pipes could be notorious. This year, gamers heard his voice as Joel of The Last of Us, the striking post-apocalyptic survival game that tells the story between a grizzled man and a 14-year-old girl. He was also leading man Booker DeWitt in BioShock Infinite, which took players on a perilous trip to the floating city of Columbia. He also provided one of the player voice options for open-world Saints Row IV. He gave Mashable a live demo of each, in the video below.
But playing a storied villain like the Joker is quite a different challenge, Baker said, especially when he has idolized the Batman series for so long.
“There’s a 12-year-old kid and a 37-year-old man who walk into that booth, and everything in between,” he said. “My interest started the first time I picked up a Batman graphic novel or turned on the TV at 4:30 in the afternoon to watch Batman: The Animated Series.”
That Joker is previously voiced by Mark Hamill, who game the “Clown Prince” his signature laugh in cartoons and video games for about 20 years. Hamill’s last appearance was the previous Arkham game: Arkham City, after which he retired from being the Joker.
“Mark Hamill is my Joker, and that’s going to come through [in Arkham Origins]. That is definitely the star on the horizon that we’re steering the ship toward, but that doesn’t mean I’m doing impressions of him,” Baker said. “Within that framework we have the freedom to show you a different side of these characters, to show the rawness to Batman and the rawness to Joker and that relationship and how that came together.”
Arkham Origins is a very early story in Batman’s career. It chronicles the meeting between these two forces. The game features a much younger Batman, who is more quick to action and anger, and a rawer Joker. It’s something fans don’t always get to see, Baker noted.
“What we’re showing is this raw, unfiltered, unchanneled, unbridled passion and power and maliciousness that’s like a firehose,” he said. “All I can do there is hope I am honoring a character that has been portrayed so well by so many, and hopefully at the end of the day, be counted as someone who did service to the character.”
Fans got a taste of Baker’s Joker later at NYCC, during a late-evening panel. In a crowded room, he gave his version of a famous Joker monologue from The Killing Joke, a one-off Batman graphic novel written by Alan Moore. You can watch that below.
Batman: Arkham Origins will arrive Oct. 25 for Xbox 360, Wii U, PlayStation 3 and PC.