Heath Ledger’s transformation into the Joker from behind the lenses is as iconic as the character itself. Even years after his untimely death, the actor’s legacy still lives on. Considered one of the greatest villains to grace the silver screen, Ledger’s Joker played a pivotal role in making The Dark Knight such a huge hit, which changed the way Hollywood and fans perceived superheroes.
And like his performance onscreen, the tale behind the lenses is too riveting, as following his determination to the craft, the actor was an absolute wreck when the filming concluded.
Heath Ledger Was Unable to Talk or Move After the Filming Concluded
While the fandom wasn’t too animated about the casting of Heath Ledger as the iconic character initially, Heath Ledger put his heart and soul into proving his doubters wrong. However, transforming into Joker had some severe repercussions on the Brokeback Mountain Star’s health, as he eventually resorted to taking Ambien to calm himself down after the shooting. From having just 2-hours of sleep for a week straight, the actor described that the entire process was taxing, and by the time the day ended, he was in no condition to talk or move. Ledger told MTV (via New York Post):
“It was an exhausting process. At the end of the day, I couldn’t move. I couldn’t talk. I was absolutely wrecked.”
The actor’s commitment to the craft did pay off, as British icon Michael Caine described his costar as “the scariest thing I’ve ever seen on screen”.
Heath Ledger Was Hungry for the Role After Watching Batman Begins
Initially, Heath Ledger wasn’t too keen on working on a superhero film and declined Christopher Nolan‘s offer to play Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins. But after watching Batman Begins, like the rest of Hollywood and fans, Ledger was super impressed with Nolan’s take on Batman. And per the Tenet director (via Gothamist), Ledger was “hungry” for the job and began transforming into the Joker even before the sequel was completely written.
Following Ledger’s hunger and the ample amount of time he got to prepare for the part, The Patriot Star pushed himself beyond his limits by living in isolation for 6 weeks and taking influence from Tom Waits. Unfortunately, while the actor garnered an Oscar Win for Best Supporting Actor, and his performance is considered one of the best of the 21st century, he didn’t live long enough to witness his impact on the industry.
The Dark Knight is available to stream on Max.