Heath Ledger’s “Joker Diary” Revealed

By August 10, 2015

The late Heath Ledger’s haunting performance as the Joker in 2008′s The Dark Knight stands as one of the single greatest portrayals of a comic book character in the history of cinema. Although Ledger was tragically unable to see how his performance was received due to his untimely death in January of that year, it earned him a posthumous Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and helped catapult director Christopher Nolan’s second journey to Gotham City to then-unprecedented critical and commercial success in comparison with the film’s peers. While stories had emerged during The Dark Knight‘s 2007 production about Ledger’s “Joker Diary” in which he helped formulate his performance, we haven’t gotten a very good look at it — until now.

In a documentary revolving around the late actor entitled Heath Ledger: Too Young to Die, the production released a clip in 2014 that has recently resurfaced on Batman-On-Film that shows Ledger’s father taking the viewers on a tour of the notebook that the actor used to create his performance. See the clip below.

Clearly visible on the pages are various images of Malcolm McDowell’s character of Alex from Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, and that influence is clear to see in the final film. Also discernible are certain comic book pages, one of which seemed torn right out of Batman issue #663 by writer Grant Morrison and artist John Van Fleet. In that issue, which was written entirely in prose, Morrison got inside the Joker’s disturbing mind to explore what the Harlequin of Hate thought was funny — things as innocuous as sombreros to things as disturbing as AIDS – as well as specific character details and idiosyncrasies that the actor brought out in his performance. It’s very clear to see that Ledger was highly devoted to an original conception of the character, and by all accounts, he succeeded greatly.

The next actor to play the Joker will be Academy Award winner Jared Leto, who will debut his vision of the iconic DC Comics villain next August in Warner Bros. Pictures’ Suicide Squad, directed by David Ayer. For more on the world of comic book movies as news takes shape, keep it locked on GeekNation!

Chris Clow
As a former comics retailer at a store in the Pacific Northwest, Chris Clow is an enormous sci-fi, comics, and film geek. He is a freelance contributor, reviewer, podcaster, and overall geek to GeekNation, Batman-On-Film.com, The Huffington Post, and Movies.com. He also hosts the monthly Comics on Consoles broadcast and podcast. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.