Christian Bale Reveals The Crazy Ways Heath Ledger Became The Joker

In the new book 100 Things Batman Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, Joseph McCabe shares excerpts from a series of interviews he conducted with Christian Bale, Christopher Nolan, and even Heath Ledger about The Dark Knight. In an excerpt published by The Hollywood Reporter, Bale reveals that he was instantly impressed by Ledger’s devotion to his role.

“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 is trying to create with this,” he said. “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.”

According to Bale, Ledger embraced The Joker’s masochistic spirit, even when the cameras weren’t rolling. “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,” he explained. “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.”

100 Things Batman Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die is available now. For a reminder of Bale and Ledger’s onscreen dynamic, check out the clip from The Dark Knight below.