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Hot on the heels of uncovering what ever became of Heath Ledger's Joker, the Internet has unearthed what appears to be his offbeat inspiration for the greatest Batman villain portrayal, and in the most unlikely of places.
Back in 1979, gravel-voiced American singer-songwriter Tom Waits was touring with his album Blue Valentine, and made a press stop on The Don Lane Show. And while this may not be the actual muse for Ledger's Joker, the similarities here are certainly eerie. Check out the clip uncovered by Newsarama followed by the interrogation scene from The Dark Knight below, and compare for yourself:
That voice. It's incredible how Waits' smoke-soaked tenor, disjointed inflections, and jangly socially awkward physicality seem to mirror Ledger's. It looks like with this Waits clip as a base, Ledger amped up the raggedy musician's disregard for social etiquette and added to it a menacing directness and cruel drive.
And from here the weird coincidences stack up in a kind of Lincoln-Kennedy sort of way. For one, this interview took place in Australia in 1979, the same year and country where Ledger was born. Then, decades later after Ledger laid down his monumental performance in The Dark Knight, he began production on what became his final film, Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus…which co-starred Tom Waits. So in a weird way, Waits is tied to the birth of the actor, the birth of his most memorable portrayal, and the film production during which he died.
Now, I'm not going to assign fate or conspiracy theories to these strange coincidences. (We'll leave that to other sites and commenters.) Rather I count it as something strange and fascinating. Did Ledger see this interview either as an infant or later in reruns or on the web and find inspiration there either consciously or subconsciously? It doesn't really matter, but it's fun to ponder on.