Heath Ledger made Christian Bale punch him for real in The Dark Knight

Ben Arnold
Contributor

That brutal, tile-cracking scrap between Heath Ledger’s The Joker and Christian Bale’s Batman in ‘The Dark Knight looked like the real deal for a reason, it seems.

Bale has revealed that Ledger was egging him on throughout the scene to punch him and rough him up properly while in custody at the Gotham City Police Department.

Best of all, it was the pair’s very first scene together on the movie.

In an excerpt from newly published interviews in the book ‘100 Things Batman Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’, Bale told writer Joseph McCabe (via The Hollywood Reporter) about the scene in depth.

“Our first scene was in an interrogation room together, and I saw that he’s a helluva actor who’s completely committed to it and totally gets the tone that Chris [Nolan] is trying to create with this,” he said.

“We’re not going for actors revealing their enjoyment of playing a wacky caricature. We’re treating this as serious drama. You go into character and you stay in the character. I love that. I find that so ridiculous that I love it, and I take that very seriously.

“Heath was definitely embracing that. When he was in the makeup and the garb he was in character the whole time; and when he took it off he was absolutely fantastic company to be around.

“As you see in the movie, Batman starts beating the Joker and realizes 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. His commitment was total.”

Nolan also weighs in in the book on Ledger’s inspiration for the now-iconic role, the last he completed before his death in 2008 at the age of just 28.

“Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, these kinds of punk influences were some of the things we talked about. We also talked about the character of Alex in ‘A Clockwork Orange’,” he says.

“He’s very anarchic and yet somehow has great charisma, both in the book and in the film. We talked about a lot of different influences, and he talked about an extraordinarily diverse set of influences like ventriloquist dummies.”

‘100 Things Batman Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die’ is available on Triumph Books.

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