With The Batman dominating the box office, another year has gone by that the classic comic book character has made its way into popular culture once again. Batman is one of the most iconic figures in modern history. The DC comic book has spanned from action figures, to film, and television. The character has spun into many spin-offs such as The CW’s Batwoman. Nick Creegan is one of the stars of the hit show. The actor isn’t just any character. Creegan made history when he became the first Black actor to portray the popular Joker.
The David Makes Man actor plays Marquis Jet, a sexy playboy business tycoon with a mysterious side to him. Fans watched Season 3 of Batwoman not knowing what to expect. In Episode 5, fans were stunned to see Creegan transform into The Joker.
“When I found out that I would be portraying this role, I initially got really nervous,” Creegan says.
It’s natural for an actor to feel pressured when stepping into a role like The Joker. Joaquin Phoenix and Heath Ledger both won Oscars when they portrayed the mad clown. Jack Nicholson and Jared Leto also took on the iconic role.
“I got excited. I thought if they’ve done it, I could put my own spin on it,” Creegan says when thinking about past joker actors. “I was really excited. I put my own swag and charisma into it.”
It wasn’t until Creegan watched Phoenix’s portrayal of the Joker that he thought differently of the character. Fans of Batman know that the Joker is his greatest adversary, who represents the total opposite of Bruce Wayne and his one percent community. Now years after Phoenix’s Oscar win, Creegan has made the character his own. A Joker with killer style and charm.
“He’s a character that can relate to what most of us deal with on a daily basis,” Creegan says. “Not being seen fully, not being heard because you are not the one percent,” he describes another way fans can look at his character.
The moral conflict of the character is what Creegan says he loves. “I love confusing people. Characters are supposed to be multi-layered.” The actor’s understanding of how to approach characters is why he has become one of the most visible young talents today. From OWN’s David Makes Man, to starring in Season 1 of Law & Order: Organized Crime, Creegan has been a part of shows that trend across social media. But with his latest role, he finds himself in a lane that is usually toxic because of intense fanboys and girls of comic books.
Since the superhero genre began taking over Hollywood, obsessed fans have been vocal about everything from plot to casting. As Tinseltown goes through a reckoning that points out its lack of diversity, studios have tried to promote representation in their casting choices. With a character who has always been portrayed by white actors now being played by a Black actor, Creegan has faced an onslaught of trolls who have no issue expressing their displeasure.
“Not everybody is going to love what you are doing, and not everybody will hate what you are doing. It is a mixture of everything. It is what you sign up for when you decide to be a public-facing figure,” Creegan says.
The actor acknowledges the love that he has received, but it doesn’t mean he hasn’t noticed when viewers email him to criticize. Creegan recalls an email sent to him where a fan claimed that the actor is not The Joker.
Still, Creegan is able to laugh and take this in stride. “At least he is watching,” he says. The actor doesn’t ask for people to love what he does. Creegan does want people to realize that this is his “art.” The actor takes the bad because the good has fans lined up for him to sign their Batman memorabilia.
It is the dedication of the fans that pushed Creegan to show up at his best, as well as be involved in the creation of this version of The Joker as much as he could. Before filming began, Creegan met with the hair and costume department. The head of the hair department, Ashley Young, wanted to shock the audience with Creegan’s look while amplifying his Blackness. Fans have noticed Creegan’s coils and lock patterns for his version of The Joker.
“That was a lot of fun. I was with them for each episode helping them decide,” Creegan says about his character’s hair journey.
When it came to the style of Creegan’s Joker, the actor said he looked to Leto’s version for inspiration. Batwoman’s Marquis Jet character can fit in with a stylish New Yorker walking in Soho or even 5th Avenue.
“I wanted Marquis Jet to be a style icon on the show,” Creegan said. “I was very much involved in that process and it was a lot of fun.”
When it comes to his personal style, Creegan loves to be cozy.
“I wear a lot of hoodies and comfortable clothing. If I am allowed to wear a sweatsuit to an event, I am showing up with a sweatsuit for the event,” he says.
The actor still keeps his look fashionable, understanding that he has eyes watching him now more than ever.
“I like to mix things together. If I am wearing a Nike sweatsuit, maybe I will wear Prada boots,” Creegan says about having the one piece that stands out.
Although the actor lives for comfort, he does say every man should have at least a blazer, a nice pair of paints, and nice shoes that could be transitional throughout your day in their closets.
Suit - Dreu Beckemberg | Sunglasses - AKOBI
Being an original is what Creegan is used to. Growing up having to defend his White Plains, New York, roots to New Yorkers who are quick to brush off Upstate natives, prepared the actor to design his own lane. The actor isn’t wasting any time waiting for Hollywood to come to him with opportunities. Creegan is building his own Hollywood legacy through his production company, Broken Whip Media.
Creegan, along with his best friend Kwame Onwuachi, decided to start their production company in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. Broken Whip Media is in the early stages but the co-founders are doing the work.
“The beauty about having your own production company is that you decide what content you want to put out. You are not waiting for someone to come to you.” Creegan says.
The actor wants his company to shake up the industry while being unapologetically himself.
“There were times we felt voiceless,” Creegan says about him and Onwuachi. “We want to make sure that we can claim our own space and carve out a niche for ourselves and other artists.”
Creegan has a vision for Broken Whip Media that includes leveraging his relationships with studios to help other marginalized groups be heard.
Top. Pants & Scarf - Dreu Beckemberg | Shoes - Converse
Being a voice for the voiceless is how Creegan continues to blaze his own path. It could be wanting fans to walk away with more empathy for those facing mental health issues after watching him on Batwoman or inspiring artists with how he navigates Hollywood. Either way, Creegan is a man on a mission as he rises to the top of the industry.
Check out the full interview.
Creative Director: Dane Young
Stylist: Chardonnay Taylor
Makeup Artist: Sekcenia Rosario