See the Diary Heath Ledger Used to Prepare for His Role as the Joker in 'The Dark Knight'

See the Diary Heath Ledger Used to Prepare for His Role as the Joker in 'The Dark Knight'

May 31, 2013


It's been five years since the debut of Christopher Nolan's superhero opus The Dark Knight — still the best of the trilogy, largely in part due to Heath Ledger's incredible transformation and performance as the Joker. The Australian actor passed away in 2008, and Hollywood has felt the absence of his talent since then. Ledger delivered a number of strong performances in cinema, but mainstream audiences were in awe of his character in Nolan's film. There, he wasn't the good-looking guy or dreamy romantic lead. He was a charismatic monster, and he quickly became the favorite supervillain of fans the world over. The German documentary series Too Young to Die featured an episode devoted to Ledger. Ledger's father, Kim, appears in one scene. He invites us to explore the diary that the actor kept while preparing for the role of the Batman baddie. Ledger was obsessed with capturing every detail of his character just right. In an interview, the star explained his process:

"I sat around in a hotel room in London for about a month, locked myself away, formed a little diary and experimented with voices — it was important to try to find a somewhat iconic voice and laugh. I ended up landing more in the realm of a psychopath — someone with very little to no conscience towards his acts... just an absolute sociopath, a cold-blooded, mass-murdering clown.... [being given] free rein [by director Christopher Nolan was] fun, because there are no real boundaries to what the Joker would say or do. Nothing intimidates him, and everything is a big joke."

And here is the below video translation, which discusses several excerpts in the diary.

"This is the Joker's diary. In order to inhabit his character, he [Heath] locked himself up in a hotel room for weeks. He would do that. He liked to dive into his characters, but this time he really took it up a notch. The hospital scene is interesting because when he was a kid, his sister Kate liked to dress him up as a nurse. He was really funny like that. He also was in the movie. This is a makeup test, which was done eight months before. Before the end of the shooting he wrote 'bye-bye' on the back of the page. It was hard to see this."

We love the clippings and photos of old-timey clowns and the Stanley Kubrick imagery. The diary is a heartbreaking remembrance of a life gone too soon, but a fascinating look at the process of a star that pushed boundaries and embodied a role so chillingly that we can't stop thinking about Ledger's Joker all these years later.

[hat tip ComicBookMovie]

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