“I wasn’t really able to get a handle”: Christopher Nolan Became Anxious Over Heath Ledger After Trying to Base His Joker on a Stanley Kubrick Character

Christopher Nolan had to see Heath Ledger perform to get the direction he was taking for the Joker in The Dark Knight

“I wasn’t really able to get a handle”: Christopher Nolan Became Anxious Over Heath Ledger After Trying to Base His Joker on a Stanley Kubrick Character

SUMMARY

  • Christopher Nolan's Batman is one of the best iterations of the character in the past few years.
  • Nolan had to actually see Ledger perform to make sense of the conversation he had with the actor with regards to his portrayal of the Joker.
  • The actor had claimed that he would not have taken the part if he was approached by Tim Burton instead of Christopher Nolan.
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It is without a shadow of a doubt that Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is one of the best depictions of Batman and his rogues gallery in recent memory. Among the many laurels laid upon the series are the praises poured on Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker, the nemesis to the Bat of Gotham.

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Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight
Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight

Ledger put in a lot of effort to make the character of The Joker as menacing as possible, without resorting to playing off threats like a joke. He did indeed seem like a criminally insane anarchist, who  Ledger performed based on various characters from films, television, and even marionettes.

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Also Read:“I really don’t need to actually hit you”: Christian Bale Almost Beat the Sh*t Out of Heath Ledger after Joker Star Consented

Christopher Nolan had trouble seeing Heath Ledger’s vision for the Joker

Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan

While being a visionary director, Nolan admitted that he had trouble seeing what Ledger wanted to do with the character of the Joker. The director and the actor have conversations at length about the character. As revealed in 100 Things Batman Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die by Joseph McCabe, the director revealed

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“We talked about a lot of different influences, and he talked about an extraordinarily diverse set of influences like ventriloquist dummies. The way they would talk and the way they would move and all kinds of peculiar ideas that I wasn’t really able to get a handle on until I saw him start to perform the scenes, and start to show how the character moved and how the character gestured and how the character spoke, with this extraordinarily unpredictable voice.”

The characters that were being thrown around as a source of inspiration included iconic parts like Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious, along with literary figures like Alex in A Clockwork Orange, directed by Stanley Kubrick.

Also Read: “It was far too Violent, it was Batman for Christ’s sake”: DC Writer Regretted Pushing the Limits With One of the Most Brutal Batman-Joker Story Ever

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Heath Ledger would not have put in the effort for Tim Burton

Jack Nicholson as the Joker in Batman
Jack Nicholson as the Joker in Batman

Ledger talked about what would have been the case if Tim Burton had come knocking with the role of the Joker. The actor did not mince any words while saying that he would not like to step on Nicholson’s toes. The actor, in the same book, revealed:

“But I really loved Batman Begins; and the character of the Joker was just too good to turn down. I’ve said this before, but…if Tim Burton was doing The Dark Knight and asked me to play the Joker I wouldn’t have taken it. Because to try and even touch what Jack Nicholson did in Tim Burton’s world would be a crime. So when Chris [Nolan] came to me, and…I knew how Chris was.”

Ledger has already seen Batman Begins and enjoyed the world that Christopher Nolan made, which was a contributing factor to his decision to take the role. The character of Joker had an alternate take in the hands of Ledger, one that was received well critically and commercially.

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Also Read: After Returning as Joker Thanks to Zack Snyder, Jared Leto Allegedly Tried to Put an End to Joaquin Phoenix’s $1.07 Billion DC Movie

 

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Written by Anuraag Chatterjee

Anuraag Chatterjee, Web Content Writer
With a passion for writing fiction and non fiction content, Anuraag is a Media Science graduate with 2 year's experience with Marketing and Content, with 3 published poetry anthologies. Anuraag holds a Bacherlor's degree in Arts with a focus on Communication and Media Studies.