It’s hard to believe, but it’s been 10 years since Heath Ledger sadly passed away just before The Dark Knight was released in cinemas. Thankfully, he was able to finish his role in the movie and give us one of the all-time great comic book villain performances - something which Christopher Nolan agreed: “The truth is, I feel very lucky to have something productive to do, to have a performance that he was very, very proud of, and that he had entrusted to me to finish.”
It’s a classic role that will go down in history. Compare it to Bane - there’s no comparison. It is possible to do a bad guy with a silly voice without over-egging it in almost every possible way and resulting in something approaching utter nonsense. Well done Heath, basically.
After his untimeley death, German filmmaker Dag Freyer set about making a documentary about the actor, and in doing so, discovered his personal ‘Joker Diary’, which contained all his notes and inspirations behind playing the character.
A glimpse into the exhaustive book shows just how much dedication went into crafting the perfect Joker, and uncovers Heath’s commitment to the part. Here’s a clip from Too Young to Die: Heath Ledger:
Within the pages it’s possible to see a number of influences, such as Alex DeLarge from A Clockwork Orange, as well as comic book clippings of the character, and other cards showing various famous clowns throughout history, as well as extensive notes from the actor.
Suppose it worked then, didn’t it? Heath proved the naysayers wrong and delivered an absolute barnstormer, so he did. And whereas the diary may look a little ‘unhinged’, Christian Bale was quick to dispel any rumours that his dedication may have led to his downfall, recalling Heath saying:
“[The Joker was] the most fun I’ve ever had, or probably ever will have, playing a character.”