15 Mind-blowing Facts Surrounding Heath Ledger’s Portrayal of The Joker in the 2008 Blockbuster ‘The Dark Knight’

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the role of TheJoker in the movie The Dark Knight is one of the most iconic villain characters to ever be portrayed on screen by Heath Ledger. The actor gave everything that he could to bring the character to life. Here are some facts that prove that Heath Ledger not only did justice to this role in the truest sense but even went the extra mileto make sure all of us will keep talking about it for years to come. Though we don’t have the talented actor amidst us anymore, here are some unbelievable things that will help us reminisce the screen legend that we lost.


The first actor from a superhero movie to ever win an Academy Award.

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The movie The Dark Knight was nominated for 8 Academy Awards. The Best Supporting Actor award was won by Heath Ledger for his portrayal of The Joker.  This win was the first for any movie based off a superhero. He was also the first posthumous winner of the Best Supporting Actor Award.(source)

Did you know Heath Ledger was down to 150$ at one point in this life?

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Once Heath Ledger decided that he had to take his stage/TV acting career to movies, he started refusing every single TV role that came his way. This hurt his bank balance as well. It was only when he was left with just 150$ in his bank account was he offered a role in the movie “10 Things I Hate About You”.

Michael Caine forgot his lines once because he was so scared of Heath Ledger’s portrayal as the Joker! 

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Do you remember the elevator scene in the movie The Dark Knight? Michael Caine was in such a fright while The Joker visited the penthouse of Bruce Wayne that he forgot his lines. Michael later stated that Heath’s portrayal of Joker was more of a scary psychopath when compared to what Jack Nicholson portrayed. He compared the latter to be funnier and more of a clown figure.(source)

The second most searched term on Google was “Keith Ledger” the day after the actor passed away on January 23, 2008.

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A day after the actor’s death on 22nd January 2008, he became the most searched person on the popular search engine Google. Some popular search strings included his family, apartment address, famous movies and his daughter Matilda Ledger. What is interesting is that people didn’t know how to spell his name and ended up searching for “Keith Ledger” instead.(source)


Heath Ledger maintained a Joker Diary!

Yes! It’s true. Heath Ledger didn’t leave any stone unturned while preparing for his iconic role in the movie. He stayed alone in a hotel room and jotted down things that Joker would find funny such as injured doctors, landmines, AIDS, blind babies, geniuses with brain damage. Heath said that this diary helped him to switch his persona. According to Kim Ledger, Heath’s father, the diary helped him delve deeper into this character. (source)

Heath Ledger designed his own makeup for the character.

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Don’t you still remember the white makeup sported by Heath in The Dark Knight? This became an integral part of the personality of The Joker. What’s fascinating is that this makeup was designed by Heath himself. He used makeup used by clowns and also considered cosmetics from drugstores for his role. His makeup was approved by the team and then the makeup team helped him do the same during each day of the shoot. (source)

Did you know that Heath Ledger was a proficient chess player?

Heath Ledger was an accomplished chess player which is proven by the fact that he won the Western Australia’s Junior Chess Championship while he was just ten years old. He did not give up on this game even while he grew up. He used to play with other enthusiasts at the Washington Square Park. He was actually planning to direct and perform in a chess-related novel by Walter Trevis, The Queen’s Gambit. This would have been his first directorial venture. He seldom had any idea about what was in his fate.(source)

Do you remember what the nurse’s name tag read during the hospital scene?

When the Joker was dressed as a nurse, he wore a name badge. The name   imprinted on the badge read Matilda which is the name of Heath’s daughter.(source)

Heath Ledger requested Christian Bale to beat him as hard as he could.

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Once again, we marvel with Heath’s dedication to his role! Do you remember the interrogation scene from the movie? Heath requested his co-star to swing him as hard as Batman would, for the scene. He believed this would give him a real feel of the scene.(source)

Heath was working on a music video before his death.

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Before his untimely death, it was said that Heath had started working on his music video for Modest Mouse, an American indie rock band. The unfinished video was then completed by the co-director after Heath’s death. This video was released during August 2009. The clip also showed Ledger who was trying to create awareness about the illegal whale hunts that were being carried out off the shores of Australia. (12)

Have you heard of the Glasgow Smile made famous by Heath?

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The scars on Joker’s face from a wound in the movie resemble the Glasgow smile. The term originated in Glasgow and became popular with the street gangs. This was given to the actor Tommy Flanagan while he was attacked in Scotland outside a bar. The Glasgow Smile was one of the many striking features of The Joker. Now, you know where his peculiar smile draws inspiration from. The modern gangsters take a credit card and insert it lengthwise into a person’s mouth to keep it open. The cuts result in a Glasgow smile.(source)


Heath Ledger’s Ad Libs during the movie shoot made the movie a pure genius.

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Do you remember the scene when James Gordon received the news that he had been promoted as commissioner? The people around him start clapping and The Joker who is in the jail starts clapping in a mocking and sardonic way. What is interesting is that the clapping part by Heath Ledger was not a part of the original script. This was a purely unscripted action by Heath which just went on to add to the movie’s magnificence.(source)

Heath would skateboard on the set.

While shooting for the movie in Chicago, Heath Ledger would wear his full costume and makeup and would be seen skateboarding. The crew believed Heath did this for his own relaxation.(12)

Colin Farrell, Jude Law and Johnny Depp gave their salaries to Heath Ledger’s Daughter

The actors who played variations of Heath’s character in the movie “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” donated their entire salary to Matilda Ledger who was just 2 years old during Heath’s death. This was a gesture of concern for Matilda’s future because Heath had not updated his will before his death.(source)

Harvey Dent was actually not given an option by The Joker during the Hospital scene.

Another classic scene defines Heath Ledger’s awareness as an actor in all the little things he does. The Joker places a revolver in Harvey Dent’s hand and asks him to either join him or blow off his head. While this may seem like Harvey was given a choice, the truth is that The Joker was still in command and was manipulating Harvey. During the scene, the Joker’s fingers can be seen holding the revolver’s hammer such that even if Harvey had decided to pull the trigger, he wouldn’t have been able to shoot Joker. Truly brilliant indeed!(source)

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