It’s been a decade since Christopher Nolan’s sequel to Batman Begins titled The Dark Knight was released, and no one has been able to top the iconic performance of Heath Ledger as Joker. He totally nailed it is a gross understatement.
He immortalized the character by his spectacular performance, it felt as if pages of comic-book have come onscreen. There was a scene when he was locked in a cell and Gordon is promoted to Commissioner, Gotham city. Everyone is cheering him and then out of the blue Heath Ledger started clapping which was never intended, but it was so good. Another scene from the movie was when he fiddled with the remote and caused series of explosions at Gotham city hospital. It all looked so real and terrifying.
In the movie Dark Knight, something happened which is very rare in movies i.e the villain actually won against the hero. Batman had a perfect opportunity to kill Joker but he chose not to as it would have meant compromising on his principles, and that’s exactly what Joker wanted him to do. Then he took the White knight of Gotham aka Harvey Dent and brought him down to his level.
Recently, in an interview, Christian Bale revealed a shocking secret about an interrogation scene between Batman and Joker in The Dark Knight. Here’s what he said:
“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. We’re not going for actors revealing their enjoyment of playing a wacky caricature. We’re treating this as serious drama. You go into character and you stay in the character. I love that. I find that so ridiculous that I love it, and I take that very seriously. Heath was definitely embracing that. When he was in the makeup and the garb he was in character the whole time; and when he took it off he was absolutely fantastic company to be around As you see in the movie, Batman starts beating the Joker and realizes 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.”
The entertainment reporter Joseph McCabe published a book titled “100 Things Batman Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die” has a full-length interview with Christian Bale. Moreover, it also features interview with Nolan and he explains how he managed to craft this version of Joker for The Dark Knight. Here’s an excerpt from the book:
“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. The thing with the tongue was…he had this prosthetic that was covering his lower lip and it would come unglued sometimes. I’d seen him sort of sticking it back with his tongue, and it was only after a few weeks of shooting that I realized that wasn’t what he was doing, that he had started to adopt that actually as part of the character. It was an interesting balance, editing the performance because he has all kinds of interesting facets, all kinds of mannerisms and things. What I like about them all is they all feel that they come from the character. They don’t feel like actorly touches. I read them as genuinely part of the fabric of a real human being.”
It’s tragic that Heath Ledger died at the age of 28 but he got the extremely well-deserved Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.