Heath Ledger's Joker: A Closer Look

Posted by Grey Tuesday, June 4, 2013

With the release of the video clip featuring the infamous notebook of Heath Ledger documenting his transformation into The Joker, we take a look at one of the terrifying roles in cinematic history with some of the awesome unreleased images. 

"I believe whatever doesn’t kill you, simply makes you…stranger."

While there will be some theories that postulate the possibilities that taking on the role of The Joker in Christopher Nolan's epic Superhero thriller film, The Dark Knight, is what led to the tragic demise of acclaimed actor Heath Ledger (and we can never find out the truth in this hypothesis), there is no doubt that the multi-award winning performance by Ledger is easily one of the memorable roles in cinematic history. Scoring a clean sweep of posthumous accolades during the awards season following the release  of the critically acclaimed film that redefined the genre as we know it, Ledger's portrayal of the iconic role has achieved what was previously thought to be impossible: Redefining the iconic character previously shaped by Cesar Romero and Jack Nicholson.

Unfortunately, the only things we know about the astonishing transformation process are pretty much only limited to what was mentioned by Ledger in an interview with Empire:

"It’s a combination of reading all the comic books I could that were relevant to the script and then just closing my eyes and meditating on it. 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. He’s just an absolute sociopath, a cold-blooded, mass-murdering clown, and Chris has given me free rein. Which is fun, because there are no real boundaries to what The Joker would say or do. Nothing intimidates him, and everything is a big joke."

In an interview with MTV, Nolan himself also gave brief pointers on the transformation process:

"A lot of [the Joker] came from Heath himself and conversations we had very early on. We talked about Alex in 'A Clockwork Orange,' we talked about Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious, having a younger approach to the Joker, really tapping into what can be threatening about a guy like this. It seemed that the youthful-anarchy idea [worked best]. It is that fear of a teenager, the fear of the rebel in society that some of these people embody and that gave us the idea of having a little bit of a punk aesthetic to it."

And now, thanks to the upcoming documentary, Too Young To Die, Heath's father, Kim Ledger, unveiled this diary mentioned by Heath and provided us with a much clearer glimpse into the process behind astounding performance. Hit the jump to check out this brief clip featuring the scene.

And here are the translation text for the clip:

"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 make-up 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."

On a related note, some time back in September last year, a collection of promotional photographs of Ledger as The Joker were unveiled. While some were made available during the promotional period of the film back in 2008, most were previously unreleased. Without further ado, hit the jump to check out these truly mesmerizing images that once again confirmed Ledger's incredible performance.

And one last shot featuring Christian Bale as Batman.

Image Source: tone_is_everything via iO9


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