The truly disturbing performance by the late Heath Ledger as Batman foe, The Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’ may be a high point in comic book movies. It is the only acting Academy Award ever presented in the genre, with Ledger winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar after his accidental death from a drug overdose. Perhaps Ledger’s passing cast a dark shadow over the film, but his sinister delivery made for real chills, something that was clearly the actor’s intent.
Though troubled with personal demons, Ledger was a method actor that closed himself off from the world, sometimes for a month or so, to “galvanize” and “immerse himself” in his characters and his turn as the Clown Prince of Crime was no different. In 2012, a German documentary, ‘Heath Ledger: Liebling der Götter’ (Too Young To Die) explored the actor and his roles, including his most colorful part, The Joker. Although his father, Kim says that the diary he kept for ‘The Dark Knight’ was a “whole new level.”
In the documentary, which was not distributed outside of Germany, Kim, who, along with Heath’s sister and mother, accepted Heath’s golden statue, is shown pouring through the diary. Among the notes inside are lines of dialogue from the script– “It’s simple. Kill the Batman” and “Like my mother always told me, when you’re good at something don’t do it for free”– and images from the disturbing anarchist film ‘A Clockwork Orange,’ a classic known for its striking imagery, a hyena (the dangerous laughing mammal that The Joker often keeps as pets in the comics), Joker playing cards and comic book clippings of the mysterious villain.
Watch the clip from ‘Too Young To Die: Heath Ledger’ below:
The full doc, which was made for TV, can be found online in its entirety.
Are you intrigued to learn about the method behind The Joker’s madness? Does it make you appreciate Ledger’s performance even more?