In order to get into his character's frame of mind in the “The Dark Knight,” Heath Ledger locked himself in a hotel room for a month and compiled a diary of inspiration for the role of the Joker. His performance earned him a posthumous Academy Award.
The Australian actor died at the age of 28 from an accidental drug overdose in 2008, the same year “The Dark Knight” was released. Scrawled across the last page of his journal is the ominous message: “BYE BYE.”
His father Kim appears in a clip from an upcoming German documentary series “Too Young To Die” in which he reads Ledger’s Joke journal. His father flips through pages. The book is pasted with anime illustrations, pictures of clowns, an still image from “A Clockwork Orange” and many scribbled thoughts.
Kim Ledger talks about the hospital scene in “Dark Knight” where the Joker appears dressed as a female nurse before blowing the place up.
"The hospital scene is interesting because when he was a kid, his sister Kate liked to dress him up as a nurse. He was really funny like that. He also was in the movie."
“It was hard to see this,” his father said when he flips to the final words, “BYE BYE.”
Ledger’s claim to fame was in the teen comedy “Ten Things I Hate About You” in 1999. It was difficult for him to break out of the typecast of teen heartthrob. His role as the Joker was praised as a cinematic triumph.
Back in 2008, Tim Teeman of the Times said Ledger “delivers a career-defining performance. With his face a peeling façade of clown paint and his mouth a blurred slash, The Joker is the embodiment of anarchy and antiorder. Ledger is so terrifying and unpredictable that his very presence on screen makes you horribly nervous.”
Empire’s Mark Dinning wrote: “The Dark Knight is Ledger’s movie. It is a towering performance. From his menacing, pencil-packing greeting to Gotham’s Mob fraternity, to the threat and fire he conjures in exchanges with Maggie Gyllenhaal’s sexy, sophisticated brief and “The Bat-maaan”, to the Sophie’s choice surprises of the third act, he is pure, powerful, immense. A force of f***ing nature.”
Ledger was found dead in his NYC apartment on January 22, 2008.