Before Heath Ledger's death from drug overdose in 2008, the actor was deeply immersed in his role as Batman nemesis the Joker in "The Dark Knight." A source now says Ledger had turned his New York apartment into a tribute to the villain, complete with comics and other memorabilia.
Ledger's Soho apartment was reportedly filled with Batman comic books from various eras, books on clowns and the Joker, as well as clown statues and other memorabilia, according to Page Six. Police who investigated the apartment after the actor's death also found recordings of Ledger practicing the character's voice for the film.
"He was studying up on the origins of clowns and all of the previous Jokers like Jack Nicholson's character and Cesar Romero's, who was the first Joker on TV," said a source who reportedly revealed the information on Ledger's Joker shrine.
The source added that Ledger was trying to make his role "different" from other actors' Jokers, including looking into making his voice sound distinctive.
The role became an obsession for Ledger, according to the New York Post. The actor reportedly spent six weeks alone in preparation for the film, perfecting the supervillain's voice and mannerisms.
Ledger's deep investment in the character reportedly took a toll on the 28-year-old actor. "It was an exhausting process," he told MTV of making the film, reports New York Post. "At the end of the day, I couldn't move. I couldn't talk. I was absolutely wrecked."
"Last week, I probably slept two hours a night," he told The New York Times. "I couldn't stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going."
The exhaustion led him to begin taking sleeping aids and anxiety medication, which reportedly contributed to the his lethal overdose.
The actor's cause of death was acute intoxication by a variety of prescription medications. His body was discovered by a masseuse who had come to his home for an appointment.
Investigators said Ledger's home had been left "immaculately clean," with the actor's extensive research on clowns and the Joker stacked neatly around the apartment.
"He was a perfectionist who clearly had a lot of respect for the character," said the source. "All of that stuff was very tidy. He cared a lot about it."