The Real Reason Heath Ledger’s Joker Licked His Lips in ‘The Dark Knight’ Is Surprisingly Practical

by Jeremy Spirogis
Heath Ledger at an

The Joker is rather more than simply Batman’s arch-nemesis. In truth, 4 Academy Award winners have performed the Clown Prince of Crime on the massive display screen. And two actors received Oscars for his or her Joker performances. But there’s one thing particular about Heath Ledger‘s model in The Dark Knight.

Ledger handed away in January 2008, simply six months earlier than the film’s launch. Yet, his work stays a gold normal for film villains. Ledger’s Joker immediately turned the stuff of cinematic legend. But one in every of his Joker’s signature mannerisms truly has a way more humble starting.

Heath Ledger at an 'I'm Not There' photocall in 2007
Heath Ledger at an ‘I’m Not There’ photocall in 2007 | ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP through Getty Images

Heath Ledger made historical past together with his efficiency in ‘The Dark Knight’

Coming eight years after Batman & Robin killed the franchise, Batman Begins rebooted the character by stripping his world of comedian ebook thrives. Christopher Nolan’s film is about as grounded as a Batman film may get. And but, Ledger’s chilling flip takes the realism of his Gotham City to a different degree.

Nearly 20 years had handed since Jack Nicholson took on the position. So Ledger knew he had big sneakers to fill already. But somewhat than offering an in depth origin story for the Joker, The Dark Knight offers him no backstory in any respect. In truth, Nolan’s story appears to conjure the self-proclaimed “agent of chaos” out of skinny air. Suddenly, this pressure of nature simply emerges to problem Batman.

Fan theories abound about Ledger’s darkish preparation for the position and the Joker’s presumed previous within the film. Ultimately although, the character’s personal perspective is already twisted past recognition. Whatever the explanation, the Joker’s nervous vitality and bodily tics paint a portrait of a person who can shock even himself any second. The embodiment of chaos come to life.

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Ledger’s Joker truly licked his lips due to manufacturing points

Of course, The Dark Knight itself is a masterclass in methods to make a superhero sequel. Often in comparison with Michael Mann’s 1995 crime epic Heat, the film stays one in every of DC Comics’ greatest hits. And the Joker stands as the primary comedian ebook character in historical past to be tailored into an Oscar-winning efficiency.

Fans are fast to level out the Joker’s manic vitality, which manifests itself in a collection of bodily tics. The most notable of those, nonetheless, is how steadily he licks his lips. The motion offers the Joker an animalistic high quality, making him all of the extra menacing. But as revealed within the 2017 documentary I Am Heath Ledger, the reality is far much less thrilling.

The movie, as identified by Digital Spy, reveals the lip-licking was Ledger’s method to attempt to maintain his prosthetic scars from coming free. Apparently, the make-up used to create the Joker’s notorious facial scars would start to slide off when he talked. So every time the Joker speaks, Ledger took that chance to moist his make-up to maintain all the things intact.

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Joaquin Phoenix paid homage to together with his Oscar-winning Joker

Amazingly, Ledger’s Joker — lip-licking and all — has modified the way in which audiences see the character. While the Joker has at all times been one in every of Batman’s deadliest foes, he had by no means been portrayed with such ferocity earlier than. Ledger’s efficiency rose the bar for what an on-screen Joker could possibly be able to.

And Joaquin Phoenix — a friend of Ledger’s, no much less — paid homage to his fallen compatriot when it got here time for him to star in Joker. Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck carries round a journal, very similar to Ledger stored on the set of The Dark Knight.

And he even licks his personal lips throughout a climactic scene in Joker. Fans see these situations as homages to Ledger. Considering the legacy of his efficiency, it appears solely believable Phoenix was giving Ledger a hat-tip.

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