Today is the birthday of late Hollywood actor Heath Ledger. An incredibly talented actor, Ledger was taken too early. It has been ten years since his untimely passing, due to an overdose of prescription drugs. In January 2008, Ledger died a few months before the release of The Dark Knight, a film which went on to break several records worldwide. Ledger had played the role of the iconic Batman villain, The Joker.
He became the second actor to have won the Academy Award, posthumously. With his performance in the film, Ledger helped the character of The Joker become a cult figure as gained universal acclaim for his portrayal of the villain.Today, on what could have been his 38th birthday, we’ll share a few details about Ledger and how he help transform The Dark Knight into a film that is still remembered by fans.
Heath Ledger kept himself locked in a room for a month
While preparing himself for the role, Ledger isolated himself in a room for a month, trying to enter the mind of a psychopath. He also maintained a journal full of clippings of hyenas, clowns and the words, ‘bye bye’. “I sat around in a hotel room in London for about a month and I just locked myself away and formed a little diary and experimented with voices. I ended up landing more within the realm of like a psychopath, someone with no empathy,” Ledger told Empire.
He wanted to be hit for real during the interrogating scene
Christian Bale, who played Batman in The Dark Knight recalled in an interview with THR that Ledger was “slamming himself around” and the tiled walls in the set cracked as he hurled himself into them. “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.’”
Ledger improvised his performance
Working in closely with Christopher Nolan in a number of scenes, Ledger even directed the cellphone video footage by himself, reports Hindustan Times. When Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) got promoted to commissioner, the Joker is seen clapping in his eerie, sarcastic fashion. The sequence was not scripted and was an improvisation by Ledger.
He designed the look of the Joker
According to Shortlist, Ledger designed the look of the Joker himself using make-up purchased from a local shop. Nolan was very impressed with and asked the film’s makeup team to recreate it.
Ledger kept licking his lips due to the makeupA characteristic of Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker was that he kept licking his lips and probing at his scars with his tongue. It certainly added to the psychopath’s menacing tendencies. However, it was revealed that it was not planned. The scar prosthetics extended right inside Ledger’s mouth and it kept loosening as he performed. Thus he had to lick his lips to keep them in place.