Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker from 2008’s The Dark Knight will never be forgotten. Chief among the many reasons this particular version in Christopher Nolan’s follow up to 2005’s Batman Begins is what the late Mr. Ledger did was truly reinterpret an iconic character in a way no actor had previously done. Seven years since the film and we are still talking about Heath Ledger’s Joker; nothing short of impressive as we live in a snapchat society that celebrates moments in pop-culture, cinema, and comics, only to forget about them a few months later.
There was much talk surrounding Heath Ledger’s approach to the Joker during the time of his passing and much that we still don’t know about his time on set. In a German documentary entitled Heath Ledger, Too Young To Die we finally catch a glimpse of the much spoken of Joker Diary he kept while preparing for the role. It’s nowhere near sinister as some speculated over the years and, in fact, is a beautiful glimpse into the creation of such an iconic role and performance. It serves as a poignant reminder that at the end of the day, Mr. Ledger was an actor, a father, and a young man.
In the clip, Kim Ledger (Heath’s father) speaks of his son’s process and it’s incredibly informative to those that are fans of the late actor.
Mr. Ledger died in January 2008 at the age of 28. The following year, he was awarded a posthumous Oscar for his role as the Joker.
I’d like to end with an excerpt from “Charisma as Natural as Gravity” a piece written by writer/director Christopher Nolan for Newsweek.
“One night, as I’m standing on LaSalle Street in Chicago, trying to line up a shot for “The Dark Knight,” a production assistant skateboards into my line of sight. Silently, I curse the moment that Heath first skated onto our set in full character makeup. I’d fretted about the reaction of Batman fans to a skateboarding Joker, but the actual result was a proliferation of skateboards among the younger crew members. If you’d asked those kids why they had chosen to bring their boards to work, they would have answered honestly that they didn’t know. That’s real charisma—as invisible and natural as gravity. That’s what Heath had.”
“…I turn to my assistant director and I tell him to clear the skateboarding kid out of my line of sight when I realize—it’s Heath, woolly hat pulled low over his eyes… I can’t help but smile.”