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I could watch hundreds of films from the 1930s and 1940s, knowing that much of the cast and crew are probably dead by now, and it generally has no effect on me. But it’s still weird to watch The Dark Knight without that creeping sense of discomfort over Heath Ledger’s untimely death. There’s no sense in talking about his standout performance as the Joker, since we all know how maniacally badass it was. But the above video (seen via The Huffington Post) gives us some key insight into Ledger’s preparation for the role before the film began production.
The excerpt was taken from the German documentary series Too Young to Die, specifically the episode titled “Heath Ledger: Favorite of the Gods,” and it features Heath’s father Kim Ledger flipping through a journal/scrapbook of both written words and cobbled together pictures that informed the distinct take on Batman’s greatest foe.
Even the cover is unique, and the pages are randomly filled with things like clippings from Batman comic books, pictures of wild animals, a shot of Malcolm MacDowell as Alex from A Clockwork Orange, signature playing cards, and even a handwritten version of the Joker’s hospital monologue. As his father says, “In order to inhabit his character, he locked himself up in a hotel room for weeks. He would do that. He liked to dive into his characters, but this time he really took it up a notch.” Indeed.
This is the kind of information you just know Ledger would have gotten hounded about after the film’s release, given the universal acclaim (and posthumous Academy Award) he received. It’s a damned shame he didn’t get to answer the questions himself. After seeing the promo photos surface last year, I wonder how much more Joker material is out there, waiting to be found. While we’re waiting, let me tell you how I got these scars…