Although many superhero movies have graced the silver screen since The Dark Knight had its run back in 2008, it could be argued that very few to follow have laid claim to having the same cultural impact or have garnered as much praise. Really, that summer was a turning point for the genre as both Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece and Jon Favreau’s Iron Man proved that these types of films were to be taken seriously and weren’t going away.
Without a doubt, one of the most memorable elements in the hit sequel to Batman Begins was that of Heath Ledger’s Joker. After all, if anything is going to make for one of the most definitive movies to feature the Caped Crusader, it’s got to be the inclusion of his greatest nemesis, right? Not only that, but Ledger turned in a performance for the ages, earning a posthumous Oscar and remaining the favorite live action Clown Prince of Crime for many, this writer included.
If there’s one small solace to take away from Heath Ledger’s all-too-brief time on this Earth, though, it’s that he saved his best work for last, and that’s something the Internet has honored on the 10th anniversary of his untimely death. All throughout the day, colleagues, fans and friends have been paying tribute to the actor and the latest to do so is Mr. Nolan.
Speaking to BBC Radio 1, the beloved director talked about how secretive Ledger was on set, which only added to the unpredictability of his performance.
“A lot of what Heath did, he would discuss with me, but in terms—he’d give me hints about what he was going to do, or we would talk about it a bit, and I would try and be an audience for him or sort of gauge with him what he was doing. But a lot of it was about unpredictability, and I think he wanted to play his cards a little close to the chest.”
Continuing on, Nolan spoke about the memorable voice that the actor created for the role.
“His voice was so unpredictable. He created this bizarre pitch. I’ve seen a lot of people try to imitate it since. You never quite knew whether he was going to go high or whether he was going to go low; you never knew what that guy was going to do, and that was what was terrifying about it.”
Finally, he expressed how proud he was of Ledger’s work.
“I took huge pride in having been in any way involved with this great performance, this legacy. He was an extraordinary person and an extraordinary actor. And for him to be recognized in that way, I think, it was very meaningful for his family and meaningful, I think, for film history that what he contributed—and he contributed in many different ways to film history—but that it be marked in that way, I was very proud to be a part of that.”
Just as Carrie Fisher was and forever will be Princess Leia, Heath Ledger will always be the Clown Prince of Crime. Because in The Dark Knight, the late, great actor delivered a tour-de-force performance that transcended the silver screen to become something more – something immortal. And that’s exactly what he achieved with his pitch-perfect Batman role, even if he didn’t know it at the time.
So here’s to you, Heath Ledger – the best comic book villain ever to grace the silver screen.