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19th Oct 2017

New interviews reveal Heath Ledger’s true influences for his version of The Joker

"His commitment was total"

Rory Cashin

We are closing in on the ten year anniversary of Heath Ledger’s passing.

On 22 January 2008, Ledger was found dead from cardiac arrest, just a few months before The Dark Knight hit the big screen, for which he was  posthumously awarded the Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

The movie is still a touchstone for modern blockbusters, and a landmark moment for comic book movies in general.

The Hollywood Reporter printed some new excerpts of the new book 100 Things Batman Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die by Joseph McCabe, which features interviews with everyone involved in just about every iteration of Batman to date, including never-before-published conversations with Ledger himself, as well as his co-stars and director.

Clip via Infinite Potential Media

Christian Bale had the following to say on Ledger’s performance:

“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.”

Meanwhile, director and co-writer Christopher Nolan talked about Ledger’s influences on the character. Some of them we were very much already aware of, but there is one that seems to come out of left-field.

Alex from A Clockwork Orange, Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, and 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.”