Christian Bale has starred in many landmark films in the industry such as The Machinist, The Prestige, Vice, and Ford v Ferrari. However, one of his most popular and best performances is considered by many fans to be his role as Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy. The noted superhero films are known for reinventing the genre and have prompted many in the industry to take it seriously.
Apart from Bale’s iconic performance, the films boasted numerous supporting actors who gave career-defining performances. One of the most celebrated among them was Heath Ledger’s Joker, whose performance earned him a posthumous Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. The actor’s performance has been the stuff of legend, with many stories about his intense preparation. Bale recently debunked some of the rumors surrounding them.
Heath Ledger’s Intense Preparation For Playing The Joker
Though Christian Bale is known for playing Batman in The Dark Knight trilogy, Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker was one of the bigger highlights. His Joker is considered to be the greatest portrayal of the iconic character. He was cast opposite Christian Bale for Christopher Nolan’s follow-up to Batman Begins, The Dark Knight. The casting was met with backlash initially as Ledger was known for films such as 10 Things I Hate About You and Brokeback Mountain.
For the role of the Joker, Ledger reportedly prepared for weeks by shutting himself in a hotel room and noting down his thoughts. He maintained a journal where he wrote from the perspective of the character. He also used the paintings of Francis Bacon as a source of inspiration. Contents of his journal included creepy photographs, things he thought were funny as the Joker, and more.
Heath Ledger was also involved in the makeup and look of the character, which he collaborated with the Oscar-winning makeup artist John Caglione Jr. Ledger wanted to keep the classic Joker makeup and set it closer to reality and hence added elements like facial creases and bits of makeup on his hands to give it a more authentic look.
Ledger passed away in January 2007 after he overdosed on a cocktail of prescription drugs. He had already filmed his portions for The Dark Knight, with the film being his final shot movie. He was awarded the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor posthumously, with him being the second actor to do so.
Christian Bale Debunks Rumors Of Heath Ledger’s Joker
After the death of Heath Ledger, there have been rumors surrounding the circumstances under which he died. Former Joker actor Jack Nicholson came under fire when he stated that he ‘warned him’ when Ledger had approached him for advice regarding the Joker role. Many theories about his intense preparation for the role were attached to his death.
The Dark Knight star Christian Bale debunked theories of Heath Ledger staying in character throughout the film (which many believe to have been the reason for his death) in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. Bale, who is no stranger to going Method, mentioned that while Ledger was in that zone, he would only get really into character after action,
“You go into character and you stay in the character…I find that so ridiculous that I love it, and I take that very seriously. Heath was definitely embracing that. When he was in the makeup and the garb he was in character the whole time; and when he took it off he was absolutely fantastic company to be around.”
Heath Ledger was known for not revealing his complete portrayal during rehearsals and it also resulted in many actors being shocked initially by his performance. Makeup artist John Caglione Jr. also mentioned that Ledger would talk about his ideas and would collaborate with him on the makeup off-screen, brushing away rumors of his off-screen Method acting stories.