It's been six very long, and very unfair years since Heath Ledger passed away in January of 2008, and the world has not yet healed. These set photos from The Dark Knight show us exactly why.
Heath was a bright star who took on highly challenging roles and then eased through them with grace and brilliance. Nothing is more evident of that than his defining role as The Joker, the complexly witty antagonist to Christian Bale's Batman.
His determination to lose himself completely inside his character was what brought those imaginary people to reality. Heath was never half in or out, he was all the way, full-blown engrossed in his work.
You were no longer looking at Heath Ledger playing The Joker, you were watching this cartoonish character step right into your world and take it over completely.
He made the outlandish feel real. His impeccable gift of improv in every step never missed a beat. Even in his movements he was no longer himself, just his role.
He was deeply thoughtful about his characters for his fans. He wanted to successfully deliver an authentic product so Heath himself designed the look of The Joker's makeup. He wanted to showcase the psychology of The Joker in a physical way. He envisioned his character applying his own makeup in a smashed up environment, grungy and wasted from his maniacal exploits.
His humor shined nearly as brightly as he did. He was a relaxed and naturally funny bloke with a sharp word aimed for hilarity readily available. This was never more prevalent than in his dark role of The Joker. Despite the name, the character was brutal and crazed but Heath made him feel relatable with intelligent laughter. We miss laughing with you and your characters, Mr. Ledger.
He was unafraid of the difficult, the unpopular, or the opinionated. He never shied away from a role that others would not, possibly could not touch. His range was so wide and open-minded that he could effortlessly pick up the reigns of a difficult beast and wield his magic. He didn't care if it won him an award or lost him some favored opinions by critics and fans alike. He was brave, and free spirited.
He was absolutely irreplaceable. The casting of Batman is always a hyped topic with many conflicting feeling-fueled opinions from comic book movie lovers everywhere; but now we are seeing that The Joker's clowned wingtips can never be filled in the same way again after Heath. Once he had his hands on a role, he owned it completely with an ironclad grasp. His extraordinary talent was so spellbinding that you lost yourself in him on any screen, in any movie, any role.
His final role in The Dark Knight shows us what we are truly missing in not having his genius flair entertain us. He was an actor unmatched by most, and this scene displays just that: