Heath Ledger Asked Christian Bale To Punch Him In The Face For Real
It’s almost impossible to believe it’s been 12 years since the death of Heath Ledger.
Although he was just 28 years old at the time of his death, Ledger had already starred in a variety of critically acclaimed movies, including romantic tearjerker Brokeback Mountain and teen classic 10 Things I Hate About You.
Known for his dedication to his craft, Ledger was a highly intuitive method actor who put his all into entering the mindset of his character. This rare quality is perhaps most evident in his portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight.
Chalky faced with a festering Glasgow smile, Ledger’s Joker bore no physical resemblance to the handsome, sun-kissed Australian actor. Yet he was able to embody the super-villain like no other actor before him; bringing us one of the most grotesquely memorable performances of the 2000s.
After The Dark Knight struck box office gold, fans were left enthralled by behind the scenes tales of Ledger’s thespian commitment; of how he reportedly isolated himself in a hotel room to perfect the Joker’s eerie laugh.
In 2008, author Joseph McCabe spoke with co-star Christian Bale about what it was like to work with Ledger. The interview was for 100 Things Batman Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, McCabe’s essential guide for DC Comics fans.
In an extract of the interview – obtained by The Hollywood Reporter – Bale revealed how Ledger had asked him to punch him in the face for real during the infamous interrogation scene:
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.
Ledger’s role as the Joker was perhaps the most enduring and influential of his career, and set a new standard for the cinematic portrayal of comicbook characters.
After his death, The Dark Knight earned Ledger a number of posthumous accolades, including Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role at the Golden Globes and Best Actor in a Supporting Role at the BAFTAs.
Our thoughts are with the family of Heath Ledger at this difficult time of year.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
CreditsThe Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter