Next summer will mark a decade since Christopher Nolan’s Batman epic The Dark Knight came out, which means two things: A) we’re old AF, and B) now is as good a time as any to revisit one of the finest pieces of filmmaking from the past decade.
In a new booked titled 100 Things Batman Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die (which I will certainly be buying, author Joseph McCabe publishes interviews he conducted with Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan in 2008 around the time of the movie’s release. McCabe also spoke with Ledger in November 2007, about three months before he passed away at age 28 on January 22, 2008.
One of the highlights of these interviews is Bale describing the lengths Ledger went to make the role and the film seem as real as possible, specifically in the now legendary interrogation scene.
What was it like working with Heath Ledger as the Joker?
Christian Bale: Our first scene was in an interrogation room together, and I saw that he’s a helluva actor who’s completely committed to it and totally gets the tone that Chris [Nolan] is trying to create with this. We’re not going for actors revealing their enjoyment of playing a wacky caricature. We’re treating this as serious drama. You go into character and you stay in the character. I love that. I find that so ridiculous that I love it, and I take that very seriously. Heath was definitely embracing that. When he was in the makeup and the garb he was in character the whole time; and when he took it off he was absolutely fantastic company to be around.
As you see in the movie, Batman starts beating the Joker and realizes that this is not your ordinary foe. Because the more I beat him the more he enjoys it. The more I’m giving him satisfaction. Heath was behaving in a very similar fashion. He was kinda egging me on. I was saying, “You know what, I really don’t need to actually hit you. It’s going to look just as good if I don’t.” And he’s going, “Go on. Go on. Go on….” He was slamming himself around, and there were tiled walls inside of that set which were cracked and dented from him hurling himself into them. His commitment was total.
Ever since Ledger’s passing, a lot has been made of whether or not his method in becoming the Joker led to the circumstances that caused his untimely death. No matter which camp you fall in regarding what caused Ledger’s accidentally overdose, everyone can agree that his death was, and still is a tragedy, as there were few actors in the world as talented as Heath Ledger.
You can check out the full THR interview here.