While Empire Online may have had their image of Heath Ledger as the Joker leaked out early, they're still fighting back with other The Dark Knight news and information, in the form of an interview with the actor.
When asked about taking the role of the Joker, Ledger responded "I definitely feared it. Although anything that makes me afraid I guess excites me at the same time. I don't know if I was fearless, but I certainly had to put on a brave face and believe that I have something up my sleeve. Something different..."
Ledger further revealed the differences between his portrayal of the Joker and that of Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton's Batman, or Cesar Romero from the Batman television show. This vision of the Joker is cruel and psychotic to the core. Ledger discussed the process of getting himself into that mindset:
It's a combination of reading all the comic books I could that were relevant to the script and then just closing my eyes and meditating on it. I sat around in a hotel room in London for about a month, locked myself away, formed a little diary and experimented with voices - it was important to try to find a somewhat iconic voice and laugh. I ended up landing more in the realm of a psychopath - someone with very little to no conscience towards his acts. He's just an absolute sociopath, a cold-blooded, mass-murdering clown, and Chris has given me free rein. Which is fun, because there are no real boundaries to what The Joker would say or do. Nothing intimidates him, and everything is a big joke
The Dark Knight, directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Morgan Freeman, Maggie Gylenhall, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman and Michael Caine comes to theatres July 18, 2008.