ByStephen Adamson, writer at
I love the game. I love the hustle. MP Staff Writer and Retired Rapper. Twitter: @_StephenAdamson
Stephen Adamson

With Suicide Squad on the horizon and a lot of rumors and clamoring around Jared Leto's Joker, I figured there was no better time to take a look back at arguably the best Joker of all time. Heath Ledger's Joker from The Dark Knight will go down in history as thoroughly iconic.

That was partially because of his passing shortly after the performance, and yet, it was also because critics and fans alike fell in love with his maniacal portrayal and full transformation into one of the craziest supervillains that exists in the DC Cinematic Universe. Or any universe, for that matter.

A lot of people know about the lengths that Heath Ledger went to for this role, about the detail that went into the makeup and more. But I think this may shock even some of the biggest DC and Batman fans. Here are 7 things you may not have known about the man with the most utterly wicked persona coupled with that devious and permanent smile.

1. A much cleaner, more polished version of the Joker originally existed only to be replaced by what we got - utter makeup madness

This is what makeup artist John Caglione Jr. (who deserves almost as much credit as Ledger himself for this transformation) had to say about abandoning a cleaner look and purposely botching the makeup job on Ledger to make sure the character was right:

"As a makeup artist you want it to be perfect, but it had to be imperfect for the character ... And to me it looked like, you know, I would never work again. It was like the worst makeup ever. It was really messed up looking and I just thought, 'Oh my god, this could be really terrible for me.'"

I love that Caglione was onboard and willing to sacrifice what he may have wanted to do in order to make the character perfect.

He even joked that, "There were days when I would look at it and I'd be like, 'Oh, my career is over.'" He was nominated for an Academy Award for this film, so yeah... I think his career is just fine.

2. Heath came up with the idea of putting white makeup on his hands so it would be clear he did the botched makeup job himself

Of course, this is probably much to the chagrin of Caglione, a professional who did actually do the makeup... and purposely made it bad. But they say it's kind of like how Picasso can make an abstract piece. Sure, he has the ability to make a perfect drawing that looks realistic, but it's the calculated madness that I think people can admire. And they certainly admired it in The Dark Knight.

Speaking of experimental art...

3. Christopher Nolan used Francis Bacon art to inspire Caglione

Christopher Nolan, the mastermind behind the iconic Batman trilogy, proved that this was no accident and artistry was involved in the modeling of the Joker. He visited the Tate Museum and came across the above Francis Bacon pieces and showed them to Caglione. Here's what the makeup expert had to say about the inspiration they provided:

"I remember Chris bringing in a book on Francis Bacon paintings and it was some really great images, really distorted images and that was kind of our bible and we would go off that. That was an inspiration."

4. Heath Ledger spent most of his time preparing in isolation, secluded in a hotel room for six weeks

Some would later attribute his overall effort toward this role and dedication to getting it right as what may have driven him mad. It's easy to forget that, like Jared Leto, Ledger was a very handsome man outside of this role. A lot of people were lukewarm on the idea of him taking on the character.

Obviously he proved them wrong. It was in that hotel where he developed the tics, the deep voice and the sadistic laugh that we now know to be perfect for the role.

5. Ledger was known for skateboarding around set with full makeup and costume on

This image is hilarious to me. Apparently, Ledger was very much himself on set. Earlier, I mentioned that a lot of people maybe thought Ledger went crazy from this role and became depressed because of it. From almost all accounts, that doesn't seem to be true. Sure, he went all-in but take this quote from Caglione for instance...

"Not only was he relaxed or trying to relax. But he was making other people around him relax. That's really true with these great actors. You relax and you're doing your best,"

Seems like a good guy and a great actor. The insanity of the role, it seems, never truly got to him.

6. At the beginning and end of long workdays, he would give out bear hugs and joke around a ton... balancing that craziness with real genuine kindness

I'll back this up with another Caglione quote:

"He'd come in and give us big hugs in the morning, that's one thing that always happened. He always was in good humor. Never lost it or anything like that. Never was mean to anyone. [As] The Joker, being in character."

It seems from what Caglione describes, the Joker and Heath were separate entities. He wasn't going to be an asshole just because the Joker was. Also, to be honest, the Joker is a very specific brand of asshole. He kind of has a humor to him and a level of empathy that makes it strange hoping that he is to be defeated.

I think at times you feel bad for the Joker even though he's a horrific villain. I think Ledger knew that, and therefore clowned around on set, knowing that he couldn't afford to just completely go full-evil. He had to be twisted and complex as hell.

7. Heath carried the Joker diary around with him everywhere he went so he could quickly dive back into character

A lot of people know about the "Joker Diary" that Ledger used to help him get mentally psyched up for the shooting days. He would keep horrifying news stories and other scrapbook-type items in the diary to get him back into that twisted mindset.

We'll see if Jared Leto can live up to the hype that Ledger created around this legendary character. I think it'll be tough, but from the trailer I do think there's a shot. And for those of you who think he's too much of a pretty-boy, need I remind you this is Heath Ledger without the makeup? Dude is a dime.

(Via: Huffington Post)


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