Even though next year's double-whammy of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad is set to introduce Jared Leto as the new Joker for the DC Cinematic Universe, people are still talking about Heath Ledger's Oscar-winning turn as the villain in 2008's The Dark Knight. A new German documentary about the life of the actor actually gives us a glimpse into the diary he created in bringing one of the most iconic villains to the big screen. And it's a pretty insightful look at how an actor creates a role.
A scene from the documentary titled Too Young to Die has Heath Ledger's father, Kim Ledger, paging through the diary. This personal artifact is filled with with photos of playing cards, various images from the Batman comics, photos of hyenas, and stills of Alex DeLearge from the 1971 classic. A Clockwork Orange. We also see the word "Chaos" written in all-caps and highlighted in green. About the book, Kim Ledger states the following.
"He pretty well locked himself up in a hotel, in his apartment, for a month or so, to sort of galvanize the upcoming character in his own mind. That was typical of Heath on any movie. He would certainly immerse himself in the upcoming character. I think this was just a whole new level."
Heath Ledger only lived to be 28 years old. The news of his death spread like wildfire. The first major Hollywood star to have died so young in the age of the Internet, his passing deeply touched all of Hollywood as well as fans around the world. But Heath Ledger was a reluctant celebrity, a star that didn't really want to be one. By opting to play character roles in small films and declining major offers such as the leading role in "Spiderman", he deliberately made "unwise" choices and risked his career on several occasions. He was far more interested in the serious art of acting than in becoming famous as a Hollywood superstar.
Too Young to Die traces Heath Ledger's evolution from the young Australian actor, who very early on displayed an enormous gift for acting, to the complex character actor he became, revealing above all an as yet unknown side to this multitalented actor: Beside his work as an actor, Heath Ledger was also a very talented photographer, created collages and produced innovative music videos. Film clips from Heath Ledger's films as well as interviews with his early school day friends, fellow artists from the film industry such as Terry Gilliam, and especially Heath Ledger's father paint a very personal picture of the century talent Heath Ledger.
In 2009, Heath Ledger won a posthumous Oscar for his role as the Joker, and that statuette can be seen in the clip below as his dad takes audiences through this dairy. Take a look and see how one of this past generation's greatest artists formed the character of the clown prince of crime. Heath Ledger's Joker has stood the test of time, and it will be interesting to see just how Jared Leto honors the memory of the actor and his performance while taking the iconic DC villain to new heights.