If there is one thing the cast and crew of "The Dark Knight" never tire of talking about as they go around the globe, it’s Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker in the latest Batman movie. British writer-director Christopher Nolan, and stars Christian Bale, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Aaron Eckhart all said that Ledger -- who died of a drug overdose in January -- made "The Dark Knight" the megahit it has become.
In its first 10 days of release in the U.S. in July, the sequel to Nolan’s 2005 film "Batman Begins" passed the $300 million mark, topping "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest," which took 16 days to make the same amount in 2006. It is on course to challenge the all-time box office champ, "Titanic," with $660.8 million. (Of course, these figures don't take into account inflated ticket prices).
“When you do a film of this scale, you are certainly hoping to reach a wide range of people. But we all have been completely taken by surprise by the scale of the film’s success in America. What makes 'The Dark Knight' such a hit? If I knew why, all my films would have been successful,” said Nolan, 38, who has directed such films as "Memento," "Insomnia" and "The Prestige."
For Bale, 34, "The Dark Knight" road show is giving him some respite from his legal problems. Last month, he was arrested in London for allegedly assaulting his mother and sister at a hotel. Released on bail, he has given the same answer -- “It’s a private matter” -- everywhere he has gone.
Certainly, the Welsh-born star seemed intense during his Tokyo visit, often frowning and staring at the ground as he spoke. “It’s great to see so many fans here,” Bale said. “It took me seven months to prepare for this movie. I got to play with a lot of cool gadgets, the Batmobile, bikes, video games. It’s good to be in a spectacular action film that doesn’t compromise the drama.”
Eckhart, 40, (DA Harvey Dent/Two-Face) said movies like "The Dark Knight" don’t come along very often in an actor’s career. “You’re with great actors, the story is a high standard and everything comes together. It’s what any actor aspires to.” Both he and Gyllenhaal, 30, paid tribute to Ledger. “He challenged us as actors,” said Gyllenhaal. “He went beyond anything I’d seen.”
Anyone used to seeing Cesar Romero (the Joker in the 1960s TV series) or Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton’s version in the 1980s, will be astounded by Ledger’s manic performance, with his slithering tongue, darting eyes and slumping posture. “I chose Heath after seeing him in 'Brokeback Mountain,'” said Nolan. “I was confident he was fearless enough to take on an iconic role, get his teeth into it and make it his own. The Joker stands for anarchy. He has no predictable motivation. The thrust of his villainy is that he takes pleasure in tearing down the structures of society, taking the morals and rules that others live by and turning them against each other.”
The Joker has many philosophical discussions with Batman and Two-Face on the nature of good and evil. He’s not a monster, he says; he’s just ahead of the curve. “He calls himself an agent of chaos in one scene,” said Bale, “and Batman realizes that there is a certain truth to what the Joker is saying. It makes him question his own ethic about killing. Heath played it so beautifully and gleefully that I was often laughing in between takes.”© Japan Today