You can’t talk about Batman without mentioning Joker. Archenemies to each other, they have some contrasting differences, yet share some very similar traits as well.

Batman is a man who uses his power and money to take down criminals on the streets of Gotham, while Joker is an intelligent villain with a peculiar appetite for destruction. Despite the clear differences, Batman and Joker also have the same traits: both are brilliant manipulators and their souls are dark.

Superheroes and villains alike are terrified of the Dark Knight, but Joker isn’t one of them. Joker has always been a favorite psychopath because you don’t know whether to laugh at his jokes or condemn his every wicked act. Since his first appearance on the big screen, The Joker has gone through serious character development, but his trait remains the same: The Joker is an insane psychopath.

As pointed by Grant Morrison, the Joker suffers from (or blessed with) a mental condition called Super Sanity, a heightened state of insanity that allows him to adapt his psyche to any of his multiple personalities. He chooses whichever personality that gives him the most advantage at any given circumstances.

In some cases, the Joker even realizes that he is just a comic character. The Joker has been portrayed by a lot of different actors, but no one played the character in the same intense way as Heath Ledger did in The Dark Knight. Heath brought us the kind of Joker worthy of the character’s frightening reputations.

You’ve seen The Dark Knight probably more times than you realize, and yet there are pretty messed-up things you probably don’t know about Heath Ledger’s Joker.

Here are 10 messed up facts we didn’t know about Heath Ledger’s Joker.

10 Heath Ledger Wanted To Be Batman

While there is no way that Joker wants to be Batman, Heath actually wanted to be the Dark Knight. Heath was auditioned for the role of Batman, but he didn’t get it. Christian Bale did. Apparently the producers had already told Heath that he wasn’t going to play Batman, but they let him try anyway.

Later on the producers decided to invite Heath again, not to play batman or work as stunt double for Bale, but to assume the role of Joker. For the producers and the actor, it turned out to be the right decision.

Heath Ledger eventually won an Oscar for his role as the Joker in The Dark Knight. Heath Ledger set the bar high for any other actor to play the same character in any upcoming Batman movies.  The kind of dedication he gave to the role of Joker was (and will always be) a few and far between.

9 First Oscar Awarded To An Actor Who Played A Villain

It has been a long established fact in the film industry that if you want to be nominated for an Oscar, you should play the role of the main protagonist character in a movie. And in the event you do manage to secure the role for it, make sure it is not a character in a superhero movie.

The Hollywood crowd knows that the Academy usually just avoids looking for Best Actor nominees from films where the storyline and characters are based on comic books altogether, but The Dark Knight – or more specifically Heath Ledger – was an unexpected exception.

The Dark Knight was nominated for eight Academy Awards, and Heath secured the Best Supporting Actor for his role as Joker. Heath was the only win for the movie, and also the first to win an Oscar for playing a villain.

Heath had passed away when the Oscar was awarded to him; the award went home with Michelle Williams, his longtime girlfriend. It was at the same time a pleasant surprise for the fans of Batman universe and saddening moment of the film industry.

8 Michael Caine Was Terrified Of Heath Ledger’s Joker

In the Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises), there are only five actors who appeared in all three movies; Michael Caine is one of them.

Caine has been an actor since the 1950s, and so it is safe to assume that he has seen just about every imaginable character in the movie industry. Well he probably has now, but not until he played Alfred Pennyworth in The Dark Knight.

Michael Caine had never seen the Joker in the way that Heath Ledger played the role, and it terrified the senior actor. It is true that people have their own favorite Jokers in many different Batman movies, and some suggest that Jack Nicholson was the best actor ever cast for the role.

But then it all comes down to personal preferences, and Michael Caine admitted that Heath played the Joker as if a true psychopath was behind the scary makeup.

During the elevator scene in The Dark Knight when Michael saw Heath in his full Joker makeup and wardrobe, Michael was terrified that he forgot his line. Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) couldn’t even look at Joker’s face when he entered the room.

7 Heath Wanted Batman To Beat Joker, Literally

Some actors went to a great length in preparation for upcoming role. Heath certainly was one of the best in this respect. During a scene when the Joker was put in an interrogation room with the Batman, the brutal beating looked so real because it indeed was.

Heath did not want to “act” in the scene, so he asked Bale to actually beat him up in the interrogation room set. He told Bale to beat him as hard as possible to make the scene look more authentic and realistic.

What you see in the movie is not a pair of actors faking some punches, pain, and bruises; what you see is a grown-up man in a costume getting a true beating from another grown-up man in a different costume. You will not see the bruises on Joker’s face even if you pause and take a closer look at the scene repeatedly now, thanks to the makeup.

6 Joker’s Makeup Was Heath’s Idea

You would think that professional sketch artists came up with the original idea of how Joker’s face should look like in The Dark Knight, but it was not the case. It was Heath himself who was responsible for the way Joker’s face appeared in the movie. He went to a drug store and bought a set of cheap makeup, then began to apply the makeup to his face, without help from anyone else.

In Heath’s mind, Joker should not be able to apply makeup properly, so it had to look scary rather than pretty. The makeup was part of Joker’s messed-up characteristics; to look like a psychopath, the makeup shouldn’t be applied by professionals, at least originally.

Heath wanted to look different from all other Jokers that had appeared on all previous Batman movies before him. The only way to make sure of that was to play freely with the character’s face.

The seemingly random and poorly applied makeup was apparently approved by the director, and so starting from that moment forward until the shooting was completed, the actual professional makeup artist had to be able to recreate Joker’s look exactly like Heath made it.

5 True Madman On Set

Apart from his preferences for getting true beating instead of acting out the scene and being overly creative with the Joker’s face rather than having it created by other professionals, Heath often behaved like real madman on the set of The Dark Night.

He didn’t even bother erasing the makeup before taking a break, but that was not the weirdest thing everyone else working around him had to see. Many times Heath became somewhat unhinged. He would enjoy skateboarding without taking his Joker costume off.

Imagine yourself walking on a sidewalk and then right in front of your eyes, there is someone with scary makeup and covered in a careless wardrobe gliding on his skateboard.

You may think it is alright until you look closer and realize that the man’s face has a scar running from each side of the mouth all the way to just below the ears. Even worse, the scar is bright blood red. That kind of thing can give anybody a nightmare.

In spite of all the peculiar behaviors on set, Heath was always in good spirit and he often made funny jokes on the set. The work environment was relax and happy throughout the filming not despite of Joker’s scary look, but because Heath was a great people person.

4 Journal Of A Psychopath

Not only was Heath Ledger’s Joker weird, but also creepy. He did a lot of strange things on set just to stay in the character, and one could imagine what a demanding work – both physically and mentally – that would be. Heath was known to keep a Joker’s diary everywhere and sometimes he was seen carrying it on set.

The weird thing was that he used the journal as if he was true Joker. The things he wrote on the diary would make anybody think he was true psychopath. For example in the journal Heath had a list filled with some random unrelated thoughts of scary stuffs such as sombrero, a genius with brain damage, and blind babies.

Anything that Heath added to the journal came from the Joker character. Of course the journal was just a tool for Heath to keep his Joker character alive throughout the filming process. If there was real life Joker, the journal would serve him well.

3 Heath Was A Master Of Improvisation

It is nothing strange for an actor to improvise during a scene. As a matter of fact, the improvisation brings more authenticity to the final product.

Heath took it to the next level in his role as the Joker. He would do many random things, which fortunately for the director, were great additions to the movie. For example in the scene where James Gordon was promoted to Commissioner, Joker was seen clapping reluctantly yet with a hint of mockery smirk on his face.

Most fans don’t know that Joker’s clapping was never supposed to exist in the movie. Heath had an idea and he just chose to express it. As it turned out, the act was a great addition to the movie, telling fans that Joker did not actually care about Gordon’s commission, but he could pretend that he did. Unpredictability is always part of Joker’s character, so Heath improvised in the way that only he knew how.

2 The Hospital Explosion Was Also Heath’s Improvisation, Sort Of

Joker’s dress in the hospital scene was eye-catching, to say the least. He dressed up like he owned the world, and he did not give a slightest hint the he cared about what people would think; that’s how the Joker roll. The dress, the makeup, the posture, and the interactions (or the lack thereof) with people were all parts of Joker’s mad personality.

About the explosion, everyone had agreed that it would be delayed for while for some reasons, probably until the crews and actors were ready for it. What they didn’t know was that Heath had taken the actual button trigger, so he was in full control of when the explosion should be set off.

He himself determined when the explosion happened, with no regard for the script. It was a classic moment for movie fans, but a shocking one for the film crew. The only person who did not seem surprised was the Joker. Heath had a genuine knowledge of what Joker would have done in any situation.

1 Heath’s Passing Made A Lasting Impact On The Movie

Shortly after the filming profess had concluded, Heath passed away. He wasn’t there to take part in promoting the movie and accepting his hard-earned Oscar.

Some people even suggested that playing Joker led to the depression which eventually cost him his life. Whether or not this is true remains unknown. During the promotion, everyone could still feel general sadness around the movie for the film industry lost one of its best talents ever.

Heath Ledger was also involved in another movie titled The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, but he left this world before the movie was ready. Without Heath, many actors were then involved to help finish the movie including Jude Law, Collin Farrell, and Johnny Depp.

When the time came to collect their paychecks, they donated all the money to Matilda – Heath Ledger’s daughter. Due to his sudden passing, heath did not get the chance to update his will and include his daughter, so those actors donated the paychecks for her instead.

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