Harley Quinn, the iconic DC Comics character, has come a long way since her debut in “Batman: The Animated Series” in 1992. Over the years, numerous actresses have portrayed the beloved antiheroine in various movies, TV shows, and video games.
This comprehensive list will take you through the talented actresses who have played or voiced Harley Quinn, providing insight into their performances and contributions to the character’s legacy.
1. Arleen Sorkin
The Original Voice of Harley Quinn
Arleen Sorkin was the first actress to bring Harley Quinn to life, voicing the character in “Batman: The Animated Series.” Sorkin’s performance struck the perfect balance of innocence, energy, and charisma, which quickly made Harley Quinn a fan favorite. Interestingly, the character was initially meant to be a one-off henchwoman, but Sorkin’s portrayal turned her into a mainstay in the DC Universe.
A Seamless Marriage of Actress and Character
Harley Quinn’s creation was influenced by a similar role that Sorkin played in the soap opera “Days of Our Lives.” The character’s writer, Paul Dini, was a friend of Sorkin’s and used her performance as inspiration for the animated series. It was a seamless marriage of actress and character from the very beginning, with everything people love about Harley Quinn being traced back to Sorkin’s portrayal.
2. Tara Strong
Stepping into Harley Quinn’s Shoes
When Arleen Sorkin retired from the role, voice acting veteran Tara Strong took over as Harley Quinn, starting with “Batman: Arkham City.” Strong, who is no stranger to voicing childlike characters in shows like “Rugrats,” “The Powerpuff Girls,” and “My Little Pony,” infused her own take on Harley while still paying homage to Sorkin’s original portrayal.
Making Harley Quinn Her Own
Strong stretched the pitch of Harley’s voice a bit more, giving her a slightly more spoiled-brat demeanor. This created an amusing contrast when the character would spew homicidal threats, further endearing her to fans. Strong has since become the primary voice for Harley Quinn in various animated projects, proving she successfully made the role her own.
3. Kaley Cuoco
A Foul-Mouthed, Ultraviolent Take on Harley
Kaley Cuoco, best known for her role on “The Big Bang Theory,” took over as the voice of Harley Quinn in the self-titled animated series “Harley Quinn.” In this raunchy, violent, and fast-paced show, Cuoco’s portrayal of Harley is akin to an insecure cheerleader hopped up on energy drinks. The actress clearly had a blast with the adult, no-holds-barred nature of the series.
A Rapid-Fire Comedic Performance
Cuoco’s performance is characterized by her ability to zip through zingers and change volume at a moment’s notice, keeping viewers on their toes. This ensures that neither she nor the show ever becomes boring, which is a crucial component of comedy. Her interpretation of Harley Quinn is unique and engaging, further cementing her place in the character’s history.
4. Melissa Rauch
A Surprising Choice for Harley Quinn
Melissa Rauch, another “The Big Bang Theory” alum, showcased her voice acting skills as Harley Quinn in the animated film “Batman and Harley Quinn.” Rauch made the surprising choice of giving Harley an “inner-city New Jersey” accent, adding an urbanite con artist spin to the character.
A Performance Hindered by Inconsistent Material
While Rauch’s interpretation of Harley Quinn was interesting and had potential, the film’s hit-or-miss jokes ultimately hindered her performance. The actress was often left with nothing but excessively loud freakouts to milk the scene. It’s a shame Rauch hasn’t had another opportunity to voice Harley Quinn with more consistent material, as her unique take on the character is worth exploring further.
5. Hynden Walch
Following in Arleen Sorkin’s Footsteps
Hynden Walch faced the difficult task of following in Arleen Sorkin’s footsteps when she became the second voice actress to ever play Harley Quinn, starting with the 2004 series “The Batman.” Walch, known for voicing youthful and innocent characters like Starfire in “Teen Titans,” brought a schoolgirl mindset to her portrayal of Harley.
A Mixed Reception but Continued Success
Although the response to both “The Batman” series and Walch’s performance was mixed, she went on to voice Harley Quinn in other projects like “Batman: Assault on Arkham.” Walch’s rendition of the character, while sometimes overdoing the New York accent, is endearing and showcases her talent for capturing the essence of Harley Quinn.
6. Margot Robbie
The Live-Action Harley Quinn
Margot Robbie has become the face of Harley Quinn in the DC Extended Universe, first appearing in the 2016 film “Suicide Squad.” Robbie’s portrayal of Harley has had mixed reception, with some criticizing her inconsistent accent and the fact that her performance often feels artificial. However, she has shown progress and improvement in her more recent appearances in “Birds of Prey” and “The Suicide Squad.”
A Work in Progress with Potential
Despite the criticisms, Margot Robbie has the potential to fully embody the role of Harley Quinn as she continues to reprise the character in live-action films. As the most visible face of Harley Quinn in recent years, Robbie’s performances have a significant impact on the character’s legacy.
7. Mia Sara
The First Live-Action Harley Quinn
Mia Sara, best known for her role as Sloane Peters in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” was the first actress to portray Harley Quinn in a live-action setting with the 2002 TV series “Birds of Prey.” Unfortunately, due to poor writing and character development, Sara was never allowed to fully embrace the Harley Quinn persona, instead being limited to a smirking schemer rather than the crazy clown fans know and love.
A Missed Opportunity
Mia Sara’s performance as Harley Quinn in “Birds of Prey” demonstrated that she had the potential to bring the character to life in a live-action setting. However, the show’s shortcomings ultimately hindered her portrayal, making it a missed opportunity for both the actress and fans of the character.
8. Jenny Slate
A Brief But Memorable Cameo
Jenny Slate voiced Harley Quinn in “The LEGO Batman Movie,” but her role was limited to just a few lines. While it’s difficult to compare her brief appearance to the more substantial performances of other actresses on this list, Slate’s cameo as Harley Quinn was memorable and showcased her ability to bring the character to life, even in a limited capacity.
Other Notable Mentions
While the actresses mentioned above have had the most significant impact on the legacy of Harley Quinn, several others have also contributed to the character’s portrayal in various mediums. These actresses include:
- Sherilyn Fenn in the unaired “Birds of Prey” pilot
- Laura Bailey in the “Batman: Arkham” video game series
- Meghan Strange in “DC Super Hero Girls
Each of these actresses brought their own unique take on the character, further enriching Harley Quinn’s history and legacy.
The Future of Harley Quinn
As Harley Quinn continues to grow in popularity and make her mark on pop culture, it’s likely that we’ll see even more talented actresses step into the role, whether in live-action or voice acting capacities.
The character’s evolution and the various portrayals by these actresses have cemented Harley Quinn’s status as a beloved and iconic figure in the DC Universe.
As fans eagerly await future incarnations of the character, one thing is certain: Harley Quinn’s legacy will continue to thrive and evolve, thanks to the talented actresses who have brought her to life over the years.