If there is an equivalent name for the joker, it is none other than Heath Ledger. He has earned an Oscar award for the iconic book villain. But, how many of his followers know that he had rejected the Batman role in movie Batman Begins before he agreed on to star the Joker in The Dark Knight.
Before casting Christopher Bale in Batman Begins as Batman in 2005, the director approached various actors.
Later, Christopher Nolan at Lincoln Film Centre in New York, 2012 recollected on approaching Ledger for the Batman part. He also stated that Heath was quite curious about the role, but he said he would never be a part of a superhero movie. The role was then handled by Christian Bale. Subsequently, when Nolan took a turn on to comic book films, Heath agreed to star Joker in The Dark Knight. “I explained to Ledger what I wanted to do with Batman Begins and I think maybe he understood I achieved it, “ Nolan stated.
Christopher Nolan said that they had cast Ledger even before the script was getting ready. So, Ledger had enough time to imagine what he was going to perform and figure it out exactly. The director confirmed that Ledger was not interested to work too much. “He liked to do a role and then stop working and let more time go by until he was hungry for it again. And that’s what happened he came in; he was quite ready to perform something like that,” Nolan added.
Nolan again mentioned, “Like a lot of artists, he would sneak up on something. He’d sit with Christian and there would be a line or two where his voice was a little different, throw in a little bit of a laugh. And then we would film hair and makeup tests and try different looks, and in that, he’d start to move, and we’d have these rubber knives and he’d choose what weapon and explore the movement of the character. We weren’t recording sound, so he felt quite able to start talking and showing some of what he was going to do. And in that way, he sort of sneaked up on the character.” It was a difficult moment for the entire crew because, if Ledger didn’t like the screenplay, it would have been extremely uncomfortable, he added.
Rumors spread that casting the iconic villain in Joker had affected Ledger’s sleep, with the actor added up he could sleep for just two hours on those days. He stated it was a physical and mental drainer in all ways. But apart from these rumors, it is a great achievement that this was the role he won a posthumous Oscar.
Considering about castings held in the Batman Films earlier before Nolan agreed on, the Director, Darren Aronofsky said that he wanted Joaquin Phoenix, but the studio rejected as they want Freddie Prinze Jr to be on the role. The director remembers thinking, ‘Uh oh, we’re making two different films here.’ That’s a true story. It was a different time. The Batman I wrote was definitely a way different type of taking than they ended up making.”
Heath Ledger couldn’t wait to release the movie as he breathed his last of an accidental overdose on January 22, 2008. And he owned the posthumous Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 2009 which was declared in his absence.