Heath Ledger wanted Christan Bale to actually beat him up in The Dark Knight
What a legend.
The Dark Knight is widely regarded as the best superhero movie for many reasons. It's an incredible crime thriller, it breaks down the psyche of Batman/Bruce Wayne, it has so many awesome moments, and of course, Heath Ledger's Joker is incredibly captivating.
Ledger's Joker had a range of emotion. You could sense when he was frustrated or angry without him having to scream really loud, he was scary at times, and he even brought some dark humor to the film. Anytime he's on screen, he has the viewer's complete, undivided attention. Ledger was so devoted to the character and spent countless hours finding the right laugh and various mannerisms but a story from Christian Bale reveals that Ledger went as far as to physically get hurt for the film.
In the new book 100 Things Batman Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die by Joseph McCabe, Batman actor Christian Bale revealed that Ledger encouraged Bale to hit him during the heated interrogation scene at GCPD. Ledger even jerked himself around and slammed into the tile walls to make it seem like he was actually getting the crap kicked out of him by Batman.
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 [Nolan] is trying to create with this. 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.
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. The more I’m giving him satisfaction. 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.
It's hard not to appreciate Ledger's Oscar-winning role, he went above and beyond in delivering a performance that will be remembered for centuries. Batman's next live-action appearance will be in Justice League which stars Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader.
Justice League hits theaters on November 17th, 2017.