Heath Ledger’s Joker was frightening. As an audience member, I felt that we finally had a Batman villain that was complex, yet terrifyingly simple in his directives. It was as if Ledger had strived to create a new precedent for movie villains, focusing on the Joker’s ravaged pursuit of chaos. It was obvious that he’d set an incredibly high standard for himself, pushing the creative boundaries of an actor’s dedication to his craft. As a performance geek, to know he won’t be around to wow us again with his talents is truly a tragic notion.
“I sat around in a hotel room in London for about a month, locked myself away, formed a little diary” – Heath Ledger
One of the preparatory tools Ledger employed in recreating the iconic character in the 21st century was what became known as his “Joker Diary”. Ledger used it to train his thought process in his attempt to embody the Joker’s manic behaviour and thirst for pandemonium.
In honour of his memory, Ledger was completely omitted from The Dark Knight’s Blu Ray and DVD special features. The following video is not only one of the first behind-the-scenes insights into Ledger’s performance, it is the first time the public has seen the diary.
In the video, Kim Ledger (Heath’s father) carefully handles the diary like a tome borrowed from a museum of ancient texts. Because his explanations are muffled by French-language voice over (being that, the scene is from the documentary, Too Young To Die), we’ve provided a translation below.
This is the Joker’s diary. In order to inhabit his character, he (Heath) locked himself up in a hotel room for weeks. He would do that. He liked to dive into his characters, but this time he really took it up a notch. The hospital scene is interesting because when he was a kid, his sister Kate liked to dress him up as a nurse. He was really funny like that. He also was in the movie. This is a make-up test which was done eight months before. Before the end of the shooting he wrote “bye bye” on the back of the page. It was hard to see this.