LATEST: British actor Paul Bettany has joined the race to play Batman's nemesis THE JOKER in a planned sequel to BATMAN BEGINS.

Director Christopher Nolan left no doubt The Joker would feature heavily in the next Batman installment when the villain, formerly played by JACK NICHOLSON, left a calling card in the final scene of the box office smash hit.

And now Batman fansites are desperately trying to make sure producers pick the right man for the job.

Crispin Glover was an early favourite, along with STAR WARS' MARK HAMILL, who provides the voice of The Joker in the Batman animated series and Aussie actor Lachy Hulme, and now Bettany has got the fans' vote.

An insider tells website BATMAN-ON-FILM.COM that the BEAUTIFUL MIND star is officially in the running to play the evil character.

23/06/2005 21:32