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Heath Ledger and Christian Bale’s most brutal scene in The Dark Knight was real

‘He was kinda egging me on,’ Christian Bale said of Heath Ledger

An unearthed Christian Bale interview sheds light on Heath Ledger’s now-legendary portrayal of the Joker in Christopher Nolan film The Dark Knight.

Originally published by THR, the interview sees Batman actor Bale recount his memory of the “committed” performance from Ledger – who would have turned 43 this week – revealing that the actor wanted to be hit for real in one of the 2008 film’s key moments: the interrogation scene.

The interview, conducted by Joseph McCabe in 2008, is featured in the new book 100 Things Batman Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die.

Bale remembered: “As you see in the movie, Batman starts beating the Joker and realises that this is not your ordinary foe. Because the more I beat him the more he enjoys it. The more I’m giving him satisfaction.

“Heath was behaving in a very similar fashion. He was kinda egging me on. I was saying, ‘You know what, I really don’t need to actually hit you. It’s going to look just as good if I don’t.’ And he’s going, ‘Go on. Go on. Go on.’

“He was slamming himself around, and there were tiled walls inside of that set which were cracked and dented from him hurling himself into them,” the Oscar-winning actor continued. “His commitment was total.”

Ledger died ahead of the film’s release in 2008 and went on to win a posthumous Oscar for the role a year later. While much has been reported over the years about how Ledger’s loyalty to the role altered his mental health before his death, his family have dismissed such claims.

The Dark Knight was preceded by Batman Begins (2005) and followed by trilogy-closer The Dark Knight Rises in 2012. Tenet filmmaker Nolan directed both.

ale once revealed that he’s not a fan of his own performance in the trilogy, admitting that he feels he “didn’t quite nail it.”

Jared Leto, Joaquin Phoneix and Barry Keoghan have all played the role since Ledger, in Suicide Squad (2016), Joker (2019) and The Batman (2022), respectively. Phoenix won an Oscar for the role.

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