Now. Here. We. Go.
2 – The Joker (The Dark Knight)
The very first time I saw Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight, I knew instantly that I was watching something special – I genuinely believed I was watching history. In that darkened cinema room, I knew that I will still be speaking about this sadistic performance 10 – 15 years from that point.
If I could describe why Ledger’s performance was so impactful in The Dark Knight I would choose one word – charisma. When Ledger was on the screen it as all about him – regardless of whether he shared that stage with Batman or Harvey Dent. All eyes were on the Joker. That is a very difficult thing to achieve.
I knew instantly that Heath Ledger’s performance was going to have an enormous affect on people as I was laughing out loud in the cinema at the most inappropriate and sadistic moments (for some reason I found the pencil ‘trick’ hilarious). And that is the thing, as well as this being an extremely dark interpretation of The Joker compared to Jack Nicholson’s, it was just as humourous and jovial as Nicholson’s turn, or that of Cesar Romero.
And Ledger gave me moment after moment after moment where I literally had goosebumps because of what he is was on the screen. The part when he takes of his mask to utter those immortal words, ‘What doesn’t kill you simply makes you stranger,’ made me fall in love instantly. His numerous ‘do you know how I got these scars’ confirmed to me that he was a genius. My absolute favourite bit was when he awkwardly takes off his nurse mask in front of the newly scarred Harvey Dent. There are too many moments where Ledger is simply perfect in this film.
It might sound silly but I have speculated about what this role did to Ledger’s state of mind. I have no proof whatsoever that it affected him in anyway – but surely portraying that type of chaotic and nihilistic character does something to a human being. Apparently, Ledger went to the extreme to prepare for the role – locking himself in a hotel room for days on end without any human contact. That would drive me up the wall but the result on film is absolutely magic… but was it worth it?
Ledger’s Joker is truly the iconic villain of our time.