There are few cinematic performances that are as celebrated as the late Heath Ledger’s bravura portrayal of Batman’s iconic villain in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. The scene-stealing role earned Ledger enormous praise and a number of accolades, including a posthumous Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
While cinema will never forget Ledger’s critically acclaimed performance, many do not realize just how deep the eminent actor dove to channel the disturbed super villain.
Here are 24 things you may not have known about Heath Ledger’s portrayal of Gotham City’s maniacal master criminal, The Joker.
1. Heath Leadger took a method approach to get into the disturbed mindset of the Joker and was adamant to not have his performance echo that of Jack Nicholson’s previous effort. To delve deep into the psychology of the character, Ledger isolated himself in a hotel room for about six weeks. He devoted his time alone to mastering the Joker’s sinister laugh and voice to make the character his own.
2. In The Dark Knight, there are two homemade videos sent to GCN (Gotham City News) by the joker himself to promote terror amongst society. These videos were actually directed by Heath Ledger. The first video shows the Joker torturing a fake Batman, which director Christopher Nolan supervised. However, after being so impressed by Ledger’s own personal direction of the video, he allowed the actor to have full control over the second tape and felt no need to be there when it came time to film the scene where reporter Mike Engel reads the Joker’s statement.
3. Actors Michael Caine and Maggie Gyllenhaal had not seen Ledger in full makeup and costume prior to shooting the party scene at Wayne Enterprises where the Joker crashes the event. Overwhelmed by Ledger’s appearance as the character, it’s been reported that Maggie Gyllenhaal couldn’t even look at him and Michael Caine completely forgot his lines.
4. The makeup design was created by Ledger himself, stating he didn’t think his character would allow anyone else to apple his makeup for him. The makeup team worked continually to replicate Ledger’s design throughout production. The Joker’s look is sad to be partially inspired by Brandon Lee’s character in The Crow, an actor who also passed away prior to their film’s release.
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