The Dark Knight is probably the best Batman film ever made, I’d say. And in case you were wondering, the rest of the order goes like this, from best to worst:
- Batman Returns
- Batman Forever
- Batman Begins
- The Lego Batman Movie
- Batman Vs. Superman
- The Dark Knight Rises
- Batman and Robin
Also, shut up, Batman Forever is amazing.
Anyway, one of the best things about The Dark Knight was obviously Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker - it was genre-defining and career-defining. But a new interview has revealed just how much dedication went into making it such a memorable part.
The Hollywood Reporter ran a couple of excerpts from a new book called 100 Things Batman Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die (bit aggressive) by Joseph McCabe, which contains an interview with just about anyone who’s ever had anything to do with Batman, including, obviously, Christian Bale.
And he had the following high praise for Ledger’s turn as The Joker:
“Our first scene was in an interrogation room together, and I saw that he’s a helluva actor who’s completely committed to it and totally gets the tone that Chris [Nolan] is trying to create with this. […] As you see in the movie, Batman starts beating the Joker and realises that this is not your ordinary foe.
“Because the more I beat him the more he enjoys it. The more I’m giving him satisfaction. Heath was behaving in a very similar fashion. He was kinda egging me on. I was saying, ‘You know what, I really don’t need to actually hit you. It’s going to look just as good if I don’t.’ And he’s going, ‘Go on. Go on. Go on…’
“He was slamming himself around, and there were tiled walls inside of that set which were cracked and dented from him hurling himself into them. His commitment was total.”
That’s method right there - getting beaten up for a comic book movie. Here’s the bit in question:
Yes, very serious scene between a man with loads of smeared make-up on and another man in a giant bat suit - it’s Heat, but for 12-year-olds.
Aside from Bale, director Christopher Nolan had mucho props for Ledger, talking here about the influences for his character:
“Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, these kinds of punk influences were some of the things we talked about. We also talked about the character of Alex in A Clockwork Orange. He’s very anarchic and yet somehow has great charisma, both in the book and in the film. We talked about a lot of different influences, and he talked about an extraordinarily diverse set of influences like ventriloquist dummies.
“The way they would talk and the way they would move and all kinds of peculiar ideas that I wasn’t really able to get a handle on until I saw him start to perform the scenes, and start to show how the character moved and how the character gestured and how the character spoke, with this extraordinarily unpredictable voice.
“The range of the voice, from its highest pitch to its lowest pitch, is very extreme, and where it shifts is unpredictable and sudden.”
He’s right, it’s a very good performance from old Heath, and it really made that movie easily the best of the trilogy. I mean, it was no Mr. Freeze, but you can’t have everything, can ya?