FASCINATING FACTS: 15 Facts About Heath Ledger’s Life And His Role As ‘The Joker’

The Joker arguably established itself as one of most iconic characters in a movie and these Facts about Heath Ledger, the man who gave life to the character of The Joker, tell us the obsession, ingenuity and class of the man who, in the truest sense, did not leave any stone untouched and unturned while preparing for the role. So walk with us down the memory lane that will enable us to reminisce the legend who met with an untimely fate.

1. “Keith Ledger” was the #2 most searched item on google on January 23, 2008, the day after Heath Ledger died.

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Heath Ledger died on January 22, 2008 and on January 23, 2008, he was the #2  most searched person on google. 10 of the 20 popular search words, according to Google, were filled with All things Heath. The search strings included his family-former fiancee Michelle Williams and their daughter Matlida Ledger, his apartment address (421 Broome Street), and his most famous movies (10 Things I Hate About You and Brokeback Mountain).

Interestingly, it was observed that Americans didn’t know how to spell and the second most popular search string was Keith Ledger. (Source)

2. Heath Ledger was the first actor to ever win an academy award for the portrayal of a character in a superhero movie.

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The Dark Knight was nominated for 8 Academy Awards for the 81st Academy Awards. Heath Ledger won the award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of The Joker and his win was the first win in any of the major Oscar categories-producing, directing, acting, or writing- for a superhero based film. Additionally, Heath Ledger was the first posthumous winner of the Best Supporting Actor award, and only the second posthumous acting winner ever after Peter Finch posthumously won the Best Actor award for his performance in the 1976 film Network. (Source)

3. Heath Ledger was an accomplished chess player and won Western Australia’s junior chess championship, aged 10

Image source: ggs.wa.edu.au.wincust.webinabox.net.au

Heath Ledger was an avid chess player who won Western Australia’s junior chess championship at age ten. As an adult, he played with other chess enthusiasts at Washington Square Park. At the time of his death he was planning on performing in and directing an adaptation of the 1983 chess-related novel “The Queen’s Gambit” by Walter Trevis. It would have been his first feature film as a director. (Source)

4. After Heath Ledger decided he wanted to take his TV/stage acting career to Hollywood, he refused every TV role he was offered. When he was down to only his last $150, he was offered a role in “Ten Things I Hate About You.”

Image source: giphy

5. Heath Ledger as the Joker scared Michael Caine (Alfred) so bad, he forgot his lines.

image source: giphy

During the elevator scene in the movie The Dark Knight, wherein Heath Ledger as The Joker visits the penthouse of Bruce Wayne-played by Christian Bale, his arrival and performance gave Michael Caine such a fright that he forgot his lines. According to Michael, Heath’s joker topped Jack Nicholson’s joker in the sense that Ledger’s joker was a scary psychopath and Jack’s was like a clown figure who could be funny and make you laugh. (Source)

6.  Heath Ledger kept a Joker Diary. In it he wrote as the Joker and included a list of things he believed the Joker would find funny including blind babies, geniuses with brain damage, and sombreros

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While preparing for his iconic role of The Joker in The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger stayed alone inside a hotel room for a month during which he maintained a diary in which he jotted down list of things that the joker would find funny which included blind babies, AIDS, seriously injured doctors, geniuses with brain damage, landmines, brunch and sombrero.

It was believed that his diary enabled him to switch his persona as the Joker and helped him absorb the psychological aspect of the character. According to Ledger’s father-Kim Ledger- Heath had a knack of deep-diving into his character but with the diary, the took it a notch further. (Source)

7. Heath Ledger wanted Christian Bale to beat him as hard as he could during the interrogation scene in “The Dark Knight”, so he could get a better feel for the scene.

Image source: giphy

During the interrogation scene in The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger insisted Bruce Wayne-played by Christian Bale- to beat him as hard as he could. He wanted his co-star to take a swing at him as hard as Batman would so that he-as-the-joker would get a real feel of the scene. (Source)

8. The Joker’s white makeup was designed by Heath Ledger himself. He wanted to show the audience that The Joker did his own makeup

image source: giphy

Noticed the makeup of The Joker in The Dark Knight? Of course you did. The makeup was an integral part of the overall personality of The Joker and it was Heath Ledger who designed the white makeup himself. He used white clown makeup and cosmetics from a drugstore and the reason was that he wanted the audience to notice that The Joker in the movie did his own makeup. The design was approved and the makeup team for the movie worked on it during each day of the shoot. (Source)

9.  This is why ‘The Dark Knight’ was pure genius and defines modern day classism. In the movie where Joker asks Harvey Dent to kill him or join his rank, he actually places his finger such that even if Dent had pulled the trigger hammer would not work. Dent never had any option other than joining his rank. This shows the brilliance of joker who once said during the movie “Do I really look like a guy with a plan?”

image source: giphy

In the hospital scene wherein the Joker gives Harvey Dent the option of blowing off his head or join his ranks and then places a revolver in his hand, the Joker gives him an illusion of choice. He makes Harvey believe to be in control but actually has all the cards for himself. In the scene, his fingers are holding the revolver’s hammer so that even if Harvey tries to pull the trigger, he would not be able to do so. Instead of giving two options to Harvey, he in fact had provided him with only one option. This scene famously came to be known as The Illusion of Choice. (Source)

10. The clapping the Joker does while in his cell when Gordon is promoted was unscripted, but Christopher Nolan told the crew to continue filming and the scene made it into the film.

image source: giphy

In The Dark Knight, when James Gordon gets the news that he has been promoted as Commissioner Gordon, the people present around him start clapping. The Joker who sits inside the jail starts clapping as well in a sardonic and mocking way. Interestingly, this clap was not a part of the original script but was a pure invention of Heath Ledger. It is believed that he improvised in order to signify the unpredictable personality of The Joker. (Source)

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