Why so serious?
This year, I decided to be the Joker. It’s always difficult for me to figure out what to be for Halloween because I definitely feel like I have to “connect” with the character I am being in order to pull it off well. In the past, I’ve done Regan from The Exorcist and Edward Scissorhands, and both were characters that I consider defining moments in my childhood and adolescent years. My favorite comic of all time is Batman, and I grew up on a steady diet of Michael Keaton/Jack Nicholson’s Batman movie. That VHS tape was on repeat in my house and it was mostly because I adored Jack Nicholson (in general, and as Joker). When deciding which Joker I wanted to be, it was definitely tough. You’ve got Cesar Romero who was the classic Joker and had much more of a clown-like look to him. You’ve got Jack Nicholson who paid homage to Cesar Romero by looking overly happy and clown-like, but put his own spin on it by being colorful and funky. You’ve got Heath Ledger from The Dark Knight who was a very, very dark Joker. It has the clown-like elements in makeup, but the smile is unlike any other Joker we’ve seen before and his character was much, much more evil. In the end, I decided to go with Heath Ledger’s Joker because it was out of my “comfort zone” for being so evil and wicked looking. I’m happy I went with this version and in the end, it was mostly a homemade costume. I’ve got the full tutorial inside on how I achieved the makeup and costume on the cheap!
WHAT YOU WILL NEED:
- A green or blonde wig. If you use a blonde wig, buy some green hairspray. Colored hairspray shows up really well on blonde hair and that is what I did for my costume.
- White face makeup. I personally use and swear by Mehron. They do great theater makeup supplies that really last.
- Gel blood. You can get this from any Halloween store for under $5.
- Scarred flesh/Liquid Latex. Every Halloween store has this for under $5.
- Red Lipstick.
- Black eyeshadow.
- Purple suit jacket, blazer, nightgown, or coat. Mine is a collared satin purple nightgown from Goodwill. It cost me $4.
- A striped green undershirt or vest. Again, mine is from Goodwill and cost just a couple of dollars.
- Black dress pants or leggings. I used black leggings from my closet and wore black studded boots that I already owned.
- Block out your eyebrows, using my tutorial here. You don’t have to do this step, but I like doing it because I can be a perfectionist with makeup.
- Apply your Liquid Latex or your Scarred Flesh to the sides of your mouth. I actually had to go to Plan C here for this step. I had some scarred flesh I was going to apply to the sides of my mouth but I didn’t have spirit gum to make it stick, so I then was going to just use Liquid Latex, which you apply by dotting it on your skin, letting it get tacky, and then it dries to a scar-like finish. My Liquid Latex was in one big chunk and clearly expired, so my last minute plan was to use some “fake flesh” I had from a Halloween kit a few years ago. I rolled it between my fingers to make it pliable and created two extended-smile lines on either side of my mouth. I then broke the middle of each of them with my finger nail so that they looked like a cut. I set the fake flesh with a makeup sealant.
- Apply your white face makeup to your entire face with a makeup sponge. Dot this on and make sure you get your ears, neck, and chest. I did 2-3 coats of this to get it semi-opaque. Leave the white face makeup off of your Joker smile and off the area around your eyes since they are being covered with different colors.
- Apply black eyeshadow from your eyelid to your eyebrows, and extend it in a circle up past your eyebrows. Bring the circle down to where your under-eye area naturally creases when you smile. Using a flat-tipped brush, extend the black eyeshadow down in squiggly lines to make it look as though the black is “bleeding” around the eye area. Heath Ledger’s is quite random and purposely sloppy looking. I also used this brush and the black to go around the sides of my nostrils and slightly into the frown lines in between my eyes. This gives you that angry “evil” look.
- Using the black eyeshadow and a fluffy brush, apply it randomly around your face, on your neck, chest, and into the “frown lines” on your forehead so it looks like you have wrinkles.
- Using your red lipstick, apply it to your mouth and to the scarred over flesh. Using your gel blood, create some blood coming down out of your mouth, above your lip area, and randomly surrounding the Joker smile. This gives the effect of the Joker smile being “bloody” and it’s really creepy. To make it look even more realistic, apply some of the black eyeshadow in the hollow of the flesh that we carved out with our fingernails. This makes the inside of the “cuts” look deep and realistic.
Doing this look is actually quite simplistic and the best part is that it doesn’t need to be perfect. Heath Ledger’s Joker had a pretty imperfect looking face and everything was meant to look smeared and like a hot mess. When in doubt, make sure your Joker smile is on point. The gel blood really makes the smile look real and the black eyeshadow creates depth and dimension to it.
I used an old wig cap that I had and bobby-pinned the wig to my head. Wig caps are about 99 cents typically and you can reuse them over and over again. If you don’t have one and need something last minute, you can cut a stocking near the foot and use that instead. Bobby pinning the wig to your head helps keep it in place and prevent your natural hair from showing. Since this wig has a receding hairline and I don’t have one in real life, I had to really adjust and stretch the wig a lot with bobby pins.
Goodwill or the Salvation Army is where it is at. Any purple suit jacket, blazer, coat, or nightgown will work. I got really, really lucky when I spotted this collared satin nightgown almost immediately. It was perfect for the job because it had these huge gold buttons on it that looked really over-the-top. I cut some slits into the bottom of it so it looked more like a “jacket” than a nightgown. I also bought a bright green and navy blue striped shirt at Goodwill to wear underneath it. Any bright green or green-patterned shirt or vest will work underneath. I wore black leggings and black studded boots I already had in my closet. If you’re a dude, I would just use black dress pants and dress shoes. I already owned a two-finger Batman ring (because let’s be real, I love Batman), so I wore that with my costume to be cheeky.
Hubby doesn’t like dressing up but he’s a good sport. He went as Batman and we jokingly fought for this picture (no Joker’s or Batman’s were harmed in this photo).
We won Best Couple Costume and it was amazing because one of the hosts of the party made these homemade awards for each category. I have mine displayed on my desk right next to me when I work, that is how much I love it. He is beyond creative and this was the first year these awards were made and handed out. Here’s a closer look…
Each one had a different funny detail to it. This one was two heads with one lower-body, and one leg had a ball and chain attached to it. They were absolutely adorable and if you’re creative enough I definitely suggest trying to make these for your Halloween party. The host’s of the Halloween party I go to always go ALL OUT with decorations, food, and all of us having a good time. I wouldn’t miss it for the world…it is definitely one of the highlights of my entire year.
If you have any additional questions about this costume, feel free to leave them below. I also did my dad’s costume for the party and he won “Best Homemade” so I will be posting pictures of him and how to achieve his costume as well. Stay tuned!
[ALL PHOTOGRAPHY ON THIS SITE IS TAKEN BY REBECCA KAZIMIR. NO PHOTOGRAPHS ARE TO BE REPRODUCED WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION.]