10 years ago we lost Heath Ledger, not only did we lose one of the best main villains ever to grace the big screen but we also lost an amazing actor and person in general. I cannot believe how quickly time has flown. It feels like I was just watching him as The Joker in The Dark Knight a couple of months ago. Granted Heath Ledger had made his name way before stepping into the role of The Joker with his performances in films such as ‘Brokeback Mountain’, ’10 Things I Hate About You’ and ‘A Knight’s Tale’. However my first introduction to Heath Ledger was with his iconic performance as The Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’. Now when I first watched The Dark Knight I believe I was about 10 years old, way too young to watch the film at the time now that I think about it. All I remembered from The Dark Knight was how incredible The Joker was. What I loved the most about Heath’s performance when first watching it was I didn’t even care about the actor at the time all I saw was The Joker, I was so taken back by his performance.
Only after watching the film I came to find out that Heath had actually passed away before the film came even out. Correct me if i’m wrong but I don’t believe Heath actually got to see the final product of his work like we all did. I was heart broken to find this out given the amount of work he put into this role. Heath was in full creative control from the look, mannerisms and even the dialogue with The Joker. Reading a past interview from Christopher Nolan with the BBC he claimed that he learned a lot from the way Heath created this character and his performance in general. If that’s not one of the biggest compliments ever then I don’t know what is.
Looking back on Heath’s performance in The Dark Knight it’s so hard for me to pick just one of his scenes as my favourite. If I were to use a word to describe his performance it would be ‘unpredictable’. You didn’t know what you were going to get next with The Joker. You certainly didn’t trust him and you had no idea of what he was planning. This is shown in scenes where Batman interrogates him for the first time, they should have just given him his Oscar for his performance in that scene alone. No where is the unpredictably of the Joker is shown in the scenes where he describes his origins. He changes it all the time especially about how he got his scars. The scene where he crashes the party is incredible, his performance to this day still has me on edge when he’s talking about putting a razor blade in his mouth providing with yet another story on how he got those scars.
Recently I also watched the new ‘I Am Heath Ledger’ documentary which I cannot recommend highly enough for anyone to watch. It really made me appreciate the person Heath Ledger a lot more. I saw him as someone who was more than just an actor. He lived his life as a free spirit, did what he wanted, put his family and friends first. As much as he loved acting he didn’t enjoy the limelight that came along with it. If you didn’t know Heath actually turned down the role of Peter Parker in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies because of this. Anyone else would have probably taken that chance in a heartbeat, it really says a lot about him as a person.
Now 10 years later what is Heath Ledger’s legacy? Well for me he will forever hold a special place in my heart. He will always be remembered for providing me with one of the best performances ever on the big screen. As for his legacy when it comes to comic book films, well it speaks for itself. When the casting of Heath Ledger was announced it wasn’t well received by Hollywood. However Heath with his performance set the bar so high that some may argue he has eclipsed what the likes of Mark Hamill and Jack Nicholson brought to the character. Anyone who steps into the big shoes of The Joker in the future as we saw with Jared Leto will always be compared to with Heath Ledger. While some look to make correlations between Heath taking this iconic role and his untimely death. I like to remember Heath Ledger for what he left us with which is not only a single performance but a whole career that will be talked about for a number of decades.
Let me know what you think of Heath Ledger’s legacy 10 years later
What’s your favourite Joker scene/moment from The Dark Knight?
When it comes to comic book films will we ever see a better performance from a main villain?