It's widely believed that Heath Ledger's sheer dedication to immersing himself in the Joker's dark psyche led him to his tragic death, and a look inside the iconic actor's 'Joker Diary' is a poignant reminder of his possibly deadly level of commitment to the role.
In a German documentary entitled Too Young To Die, Heath's father, Kim Ledger, takes us on an emotional journey through the chaotic pages of his son's efforts to truly get into character and it isn't easy viewing for any Ledger fan.
In true Joker style, the diary's fun and childish cover doesn't betray the forbidding scribbles that lie within its pages.
The diary reveals that Heath Ledger had a wide array of manic muses for his performance, including hyenas and the character 'Alex' from Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange.
While flicking through the diary, Heath's father confirmed that his son had thrown himself into self-imposed exile to dig into the Joker's twisted grey matter, he explained:
"He galvanized the upcoming character. That was typical of Heath. He would do that. He liked to dive into his characters, but this time he really took it up a notch."
An Evil Exile
Before his death, Ledger himself spoke about the circumstances in which he created the diary, and in turn learned how to speak in the Joker's sociopathic language, he explained to Empire that:
"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."
Along with drawing inspiration from other sources, Ledger had also done his homework on the Joker's dastardly deeds in the DC comic universe.
The Man in the Mask
The diary also contained a shot of the original makeup test for the Joker with an erratically scrawled note that Ledger had added later that reads:
8 MONTHS AGO WRAPPED NOW!
A Bittersweet Goodbye
The diary ends with the words "BYE BYE" scribbled over a page of text in silver pen, and although Ledger was probably simply waving goodbye to the difficult role, it's hard to not read into it more. In the simple yet touching words of Heath's father:
"At the end of shooting, he wrote goodbye on the back of the last page. It was hard to read that."
R.I.P. Heath Ledger.