Heath Ledger's Joker murdered a lot of people in The Dark Knight, but one of his more shocking kills was "the pencil trick," i.e. grabbing a guy's face and shoving it into an upward facing pencil so powerfully that it pierced through the man's eye. For those who've wondered over the last decade how this "trick" was actually pulled off, it wasn't through the use of a CG pencil, but simple film editing. Production designer Nathan Crowley stated:
As visual effects supervisor Nick Davis further, using a CG pencil for this sequence for The Dark Knight would have been problematic. Although it was easy enough even back then to create a CG pencil and "track it in and kinda make it disappear out," because the movie was shot in IMAX, they avoided including unnecessary digital shots because "you can never really re-create an IMAX image."
So instead, The Dark Knight took the practical route with the pencil trick, resulting in approximately 22 takes across two days and using two kinds of tables: a regular one and one made of galvanized rubber. Charles Jarman, the actor who played the unnamed henchman The Joker killed, mentioned that director Christopher Nolan told him they were going to do a couple shots where Jarman had to quickly sneak the pencil away as he was going down, which proved difficult to do since the pencil was stuck to the table.
This practical approach also resulted in Charles Jarman losing consciousness on several occasions. As he recalled to Vulture:
In the end, the pencil trick became one of The Dark Knight's most memorable scenes, and Charles Jarman believes the it ended up looking as real as it possibly could have, although if he had a similar job now, he'd want to pull it off in a different way. Of course, Joker quickly disposing of Gambol's goon happened early into The Dark Knight, and the Clown Prince of Crime would have another two hours to cement himself as Gotham City's greatest terrorist... well, at least until Bane showed up eight years later.
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Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.