When Heath Ledger told Christian Bale to hit him for real while filming The Dark Knight: ‘His commitment was total’
Such was Heath Ledger’s commitment to playing the Joker, the actor told his co-star Christian Bale to really hit him in the famous interrogation scene from The Dark Knight. Bale, who played Batman in the comic book blockbuster, said in an interview that Ledger wanted the scene to feel real and kept egging him on.
The interview was originally published in the book 100 Things Batman Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, by author Joseph McCabe. It was later reproduced by The Hollywood Reporter.
“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,” Bale said. “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.”
Bale continued, “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.” Describing Ledger’s process while they filmed the interrogation scene, Bale said, “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 died of an accidental overdoes months before The Dark Knight was released to critical and commercial success. The actor won a posthumous Oscar for his performance.
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