Jonathan Nolan: No One Understood Why Christopher Nolan Wanted Heath Ledger as the Joker

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Heath Ledger's take on the Joker in The Dark Knight has gone down to be one of the most iconic villain performances in a comic book movie ever, but prior to the film's release, no one had any faith in Ledger at all—including the producers of the film, as well as anyone who wasn't Christopher Nolan.

Talking to the Hollywood Reporter, Jonathan Nolan revealed:

"When I wrote The Dark Knight, Chris [Nolan] had to figure out how we'd tackle the Joker… Chris had a good meeting with Heath Ledger. And no one got it — I didn't get it, the studio didn't get it. And the fan community was … we were fucking pilloried for it."

‘Disaster, worst casting decision ever!' Chris just stuck to his guns. It was a question of not giving the fans what they're asking for but what they want — which is, ‘Let's find a really fuckin' serious actor, somebody who's going to come in and just tear this role to pieces.'"


Of course, after the Dark Knight screened, a lot of people instantly felt dumb for ever doubting Ledger in the first place. He was able to bring something entirely new to the role, and gave us a Joker that we've never seen before. The role has become so iconic that it manages to seep into performances of other comic book villains. Just look at Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor from Batman v Superman.

For now, the role of the Joker is coming down to two new faces; the first one being Jared Leto from Suicide Squad, while the other being Joaquin Phoenix in the upcoming Joker film. We've yet to see a performance that managed to top Ledger's but fingers crossed that we'll get something on the same level eventually.

The Joker origin movie is set to come out Oct. 4, 2019.

See Also: Bryan Callen from The Hangover Joins Cast of Joker