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“I would never take a part in a superhero film”: Late Heath Ledger Nearly Lost His Only Oscar Award After Losing Role to Christian Bale in $374M Batman

Late Heath Ledger Nearly Lost His Only Oscar Award After Losing Role to Christian Bale in $374M Batman

If there is one actor who has left a defining mark on Hollywood before saying goodbye too soon, it is Heath Ledger. Not only did he stun everyone with his acting in movies like Brokeback Mountain, but he also gave one of the best on-screen performances in The Dark Knight as Joker. He was immaculate, menacing, and often terrifying as Joker. The portrayal also marked one of the few times when an antagonist overshadowed the protagonist.

Heath Ledger as Joker in The Dark Knight (2008)
Heath Ledger as Joker in The Dark Knight (2008)

But what if Heath Ledger, who received a posthumous Academy Award for his role in The Dark Knight, never became the Joker in the first place? What if he was given the task of playing the Caped Crusader, instead? Well, that’s where things were headed in the first place. Director Christopher Nolan initially wanted Heath Ledger to play Batman in Batman Begins, but he was turned down by the actor. He simply didn’t want to be a part of the superhero world!

Also Read: Johnny Depp Reportedly Turned Down Christopher Nolan’s $2.4B The Dark Knight Trilogy Because of Heath Ledger

Christopher Nolan Wanted Heath Ledger to Play Batman

Heath Ledger and Christopher Nolan
Heath Ledger and Christopher Nolan

Also Read: “I want to show people what that is”: The Batman Star Barry Keoghan Hints He’s Spiralling Into Heath Ledger’s Insane Joker Preparation for Sequel

We all adored Christian Bale in The Dark Knight trilogy. But if Christopher Nolan had gotten his way, the films might have ended up looking quite different. Why? Well, before giving the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman to Bale, Nolan had approached Heath Ledger for the same. Yes, the same Ledger who ended up giving an iconic portrayal of Joker in the sequel.

In a Q&A session at New York City’s Lincoln Center Theater, Nolan talked about the time when he asked Ledger to play Batman in Batman Begins. While the actor was grateful for the opportunity, he didn’t want to do anything with a superhero film.

“He was quite gracious about it, but he said, ‘I would never take a part in a superhero film.”

So what changed the actor’s mind when he was once again approached to play the Joker? According to Nolan, Ledger realized that Nolan’s Batman films were not ordinary superhero flicks. This is why, when he was approached for the Joker, he immediately said yes to the role.

“I explained to him what I wanted to do with ‘Batman Begins’ and I think maybe he felt I achieved it… We cast him even before the script was written. So he had a very long time to obsess about it, think about what he was going to do, to really figure it out.”

We are glad Batman Begins was able to turn Ledger’s mind around. After the mind-blowing performance by the actor as the Joker, can you even imagine someone else playing the character in the film? That’s gonna be a no from us!

Also Read: “I thought it was a mistake”: Christopher Nolan Became Afraid of Heath Ledger Despite Choosing Him for $1B Movie Against Fans’ Demands

What Heath Ledger Said About Playing The Joker

Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight
Christian Bale and Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight

We have already established that Ledger wasn’t a fan of comic books. This is because, according to him, he grew up in a house of girls and he wasn’t exposed to Batman as much as needed to grow a liking. According to The Hollywood Reporter, despite all this, Ledger loved Batman Begins and decided to jump on The Dark Knight bandwagon.

“The only reason I wasn’t [a fan of comic books was] I grew up in a household of girls. So there were very few Batman comic books lying around. There [was] mainly Archie. So that’s probably the only reason why I never grew up reading Batman. But I really loved Batman Begins, and the character of the Joker was just too good to turn down. …

So when Chris [Nolan] came to me — and I knew how Chris was — he had already set up the world for me. I’d seen what world it was that I would be playing in. So I knew it was open for a fresh interpretation. I also instantly kind of had something up my sleeve, which happened to be exactly what Chris was kind of looking for. We sat down and kind of shared ideas, and they were the same. So we just went with it.”

Ledger left the world in January 2008, just a few months before the release of The Dark Knight. Unfortunately, he couldn’t witness the world in awe of his performance as the Joker. What’s even more heartbreaking is that Ledger won his only Academy Award thanks to the role, but couldn’t receive it himself. His contributions to the entertainment industry can never be forgotten.

You can stream The Dark Knight on HBO Max.

Source: Looper

Written by Mishkaat Khan

Mishkaat is a medical student who found solace in content writing. Having worked in the industry for about three years, she has written about everything from medicine to literature and is now happy to enlight you about the world of entertainment. She has written over 450 articles for FandomWire as a content writer. When not writing, she can be found obsessing over the world of the supernatural through books and TV.