"Heath has created something quite terrifying" - Empire Magazine interview

Discussion in 'The Dark Knight' started by WelshMan, Dec 2, 2007.

  1. WelshMan Registered

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    Picked up a copy today, here it is :

    FeaR HAs a faCe

    In a vacant office block on the west side of LaSalle street in downtown Chicago - temporary production base of a movie that our press pass insists is called Rorys first kiss, but everyone knows is really The Dark Knight - EMPIRE is shown into a high-ceilinged, wood-panelled room, the kind of place you'd imagine very important decisions were once taken by powerful, polyester-clad men back in the 1970's. We've ostensibly been invited here to observe director Christopher Nolan at work in the street outside and the building opposite via a live feed to a flatscreen TV, but the producers have arranged something else, too.
    In a small, windowless side-room stand a pair of costumes. In one corner, hanging from a sturdy, metal frame, is the new-look batsuit, all matte-black mesh and unyielding hard-plastic carapace, the first to allow the moody crime-fighter to actually turn his head. Impressive.
    But in the corner to its left, draped simply over a headless mannequin, is something far more exciting. Its a tatty, threadbare get-up, a dark-green waistcoat over a grey shirt, with a dark green tie at the collar. Purple trousers hang below and a long, angular purple coat sits on top. The ensemble's completed by a pair of purple gloves and a silver fob chain dangling from the belt. Its part Vivienne Westwood, part Alexander McQueen, part thrift-shop grunge. And its entirely The Joker.
    Well, of course, not literally entirely. Later, Heath Ledger, the man who fills the suit onscreen, joins EMPIRE - sadly sans his ravaged,psycho-clown make-up. Ledgers ill-at-ease body language and propensity to mumble suggest a nervousness you might expect from some tackling such an iconic role. But everybody else EMPIRE'S talked with that day, from Nolan himself to Michael Caine, who returns as Bruce Waynes sardonic butler Alfred, descibes Ledger as "Fearless".
    "Oh, i definately feared it" Ledger tells EMPIRE quietly, with a half-apologetic smile. "Although anything that makes me afraid i guess excites me at the same time. I dont know if I was fearless, but i certainly had to put on a brave face and believe that i had something up up my sleeve. Something different....."
    Christopher Nolan made it quite clear that after he'd completed Batman Begins that he had no intention of making a sequel. But then, while shooting his next movie, The Prestige, something surprising happened : Nolan found himself replaying Batman Begins' final dialogue exchange in his head, the moment when good copper Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) talks of a criminal with " a taste for the theatrics" and hands Batman (Christian Bale) a playing card adorned with the smile-snarl face of a Joker. And Nolan found himself wanting to make a sequel, if only to see The Joker done his way.
    "The way Batman Begins ended was intended not so much as sequel bait" Nolan insists, "but to create a level of excitment at the end of the movie. Ultimately, the sequel happened because we got caught up in that process of imagining how you would see The Joker through the prism of what we did in the first film". And how is The Joker seen through that prism?
    "Indescribable, really. Not to sound evasive - it actually is quite difficult to explain, but all i can really say is Heaths not doing any paticular thing, He's just inhabiting the character in very much the way i'd hoped from a psychological perspective. He really created something that i think is going to be quite terrifying."
    Throughout EMPIRES time noodling about on The Dark Knights set nobody seems confident enough to say precisely how The Joker will be portrayed in this film. A "Prologue" sequence revealing something of this mysterious villains origin (various versions of which have been presented over the years in the comic-books) will be screened ahead of I am legend on its US release later this month, and is likely to appear in the UK, too, come the latter films January release. Even so, Ledger himself quips that "I feel like i'll be assassinated if i tell you something wrong" so when asked how much we'll see in the film of the man who becomes The Joker, he merely says that " Most of the villains in the Chris Nolan style of Batman films are normal people......or once were normal people".


    Ok, thats part 1 - taking a break now, more to come......
     
  2. CARNAGE-COMETH Registered

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    Thanks a bunch WelshMan

    If you have a Scanner it would be easier to get some high res scanned pics of the articles then actually typing them out.

    But if not its appreciated either way.
     
  3. RED_Rider Soul Reaver

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    Incredible. Thank you.
    "And Nolan found himself wanting to make a sequel, if only to see The Joker done his way"
    I respect Jack Nicholson's Joker but I'm definitly dying to see Nolan's version in a truly dark Batman movie.
     
  4. Gianakin_ SW Prequels Defender

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    What on earth are they talking about?
    Wasn't there a 3-film pitch by Nolan and Goyer to WB?
     
  5. WelshMan Registered

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    Still, Ledgers more than happy to discuss how he became The Joker - and we're not just talking about an hour in make-up. "Its a combination of reading all the comic books i could that were relevant to the script and then just closing my eyes and meditating on it. I sat around in a hotel room in London for about a month, locked myself away, formed a little diary and experimented with voices - it was important to try to find a somewhat iconic voice and laugh. I ended up landing more in the realm of a psychopath - someone with very little to no conscience towards his acts. Hes just an absolute sociopath, a cold-blooded, mass-murdering clown, and Chris has given me free reign, which is fun, because there are no real boundaries to what The Joker would say or do. Nothing Intimidates him, and everything is a big joke"
    "I think we have that in all of us" Ledger muses, before attempting to describe the physicality of inhabiting his and Nolans vision of The Joker : "Its kind of like eating raw meat. What that does to your mouth and your eyes, simple little visual things like that. I dont know - i guess the rest is just trusting your research."
    There is a very specific reason, though, why Ledger - who's never even played a villain before - is considered a brave man to tackle this role. And , as with many things, nobody expresses that reason better than Michael Caine.
    "If i put myself in the producers shoes, i think : 'Wait a minute, we are making a movie about The Joker'" the 74 year old actor ruminates. "Now, we have had Jack Nicholson, who is one of the Jokers and one of the greatest characters in this kind of movie. I have worked with Jack and i know him really well. You do not really want to follow Jack into anything. Unless its a nightclub!"
    For his part, Nolan had no reservations about "following" Jack (Somewhere other than a nightclub). "None at all, to be honest" he says. "And that was very important to us in deciding to make this film. I certainley knew that story-wise the character was going to be very different, and it was always going to require a fearless performance from someone not afraid to put forward his own interpretation".
    "Heath Ledger stunned me" continues Caine. "Jack played The Joker as sort of a benign nasty clown - like a wicked uncle. Heath plays him like an absolutely maniacal murderous psychopath. You have never seen anything like it in your life. He is very, very scary. I turn up very month or so and do a couple of bits, then go back to London. I had to do this bit where Batman and I watch a video which The Joker sends to threaten us. So i'd never seen him, and then he came up on the television in the first rehearsal and i completely forgot my lines. I flipped, because it was so stunning, it was quite amazing. Wait until you see it, its incredible".

    Part 2 done, the final 3rd part is on the way folks.........
     
  6. El Payaso Registered

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    Sigworthy! :D


    Oh and thank you very much for the transcription. :up:
     
  7. Eggyman The Oval Avenger

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    Yeh, that's what I was thinking . . .
     
  8. ActuallyRobin Registered

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    and i always thought the main actors were contracted for three?
     
  9. WelshMan Registered

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    Fans of the comic book will realise that what we'll be seeing here is a version more of the original Joker - the pure, cold-hearted sociopath version - and the recent portrayals of him as a deeply insane man. Not the crown price of crime, the rather more harmless prankster-bank-robber of the 60's, the cesar romero version if you like, which the Jack-joker ran with for Burtons Batman.
    Indeed, the ratty costume which EMPIRE was introduced to right at the beginning of our day provides some key clues to the contrast between Ledgers Joker and Nicholsons. "Hes certainley not a dapper, dandy gentleman in this film" says costume designer Lindy Hemming. "Whatever is wrong with him, it means he doesnt care about himself at all, really. We were trying to make him sort of a...i dont want to say vagrant, but his look in this film has a much punkier feel. Anarchic feel. Scruffier, grungier, and therefore when you see him move, hes slightly twitchier or edgy."
    He doesnt even have 'clown' make-up on, as such. "Hes just somebody who exaggerates tha scar on his mouth" adds hemming. A quick word with Conor O'Sullivan, lead make-up prosthetic artist, gives us some clue as to how The Joker recieves this scar. "I cant say too much because its a major plot point for the movie, but lets just say that The Joker himself is responsible for at least some of the scarring".
    "What the director has done" says Caine, "which is so clever, is that the Joker has left the make-up and just let it rot off. It is never renewed. He's got a big, wide mouth and it gradually almost looks like a bad skin disease".
    An Antagonist is nothing without his protagonist, of course, and we should not forget that we wouldnt even have The Joker if it were'nt for Batman. Still, with Nicholson stealing Burtons movie away from the frowning Michael Keaton, you could forgive Christian Bale for worring that Ledger would do the same to him.
    "Im not worried at all" says Bale. "That was exactly the problem i had with all of the other movies - after i had read Frank Millers Batman : year one and the various other graphic novels, i looked at those films and said "Well, how come its always been that Batmans the most boring character?, ive never found him to be intriguing at all. Whereas these graphic novels depicted him as really being by far the most fascinating character. So i feel like we gained that back with Batman Begins. Now we've made him a character of substance, i have no problem with him competing with someone else. And thats going to make better entertainment and a better movie, which is great."
    Bale grins "I dont mind if everybody tries to chew up the scenery!"


    Ok, im never typing or using a PC ever again............thats all folks
     
  10. sdc10 Registered

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    yes but if for some reason the first movie bombed im pretty sure they wouldnt make the others...he probably meant that in case the others werent made he wanting the ending to just get the people excited
     
  11. Ibn Registered

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    A "Prologue" sequence revealing something of this mysterious villains origin (various versions of which have been presented over the years in the comic-books)



    Okay now they're just cockteasing us. First they say they won't touch on his origin, now they will.


    I had to do this bit where Batman and I watch a video which The Joker sends to threaten us



    .......... I made a poopy.:wow:
     
  12. Nighthawk_Fan Registered

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    Thanks, WelshMan! A great read!
     
  13. misterteenwolf Registered

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    man this has been an exciting week
     
  14. A Dark Knight Registered

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    Thanks for doing this WelshMan, hope you can type again one day :woot:

    Ledger as the Joker sounds just like what I have wanted to see, very dark, very psycho, it is going to be awesome to watch he and Bale go at it, July 18th can't come fast enough.
     
  15. Gianakin_ SW Prequels Defender

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    Oh, thank God he didn't want to give anything major away.:whatever:
     
  16. El Payaso Registered

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    Oh, Bale c'mon. Too bad you got bored. Keaton's and to a certain extent Kilmer's Batman did really good and didn't need more screentime to achieve greatness. So don't be so insecure, you're a good actor. Just work more on that Batman's voice so it doesn't sound so fake-raspy and so close to Bruce Wayne voice. Go, kid, knock them down.
     
  17. WelshMan Registered

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    yeah - hes probably been sacked already!
    I guess its what everyones been saying - Batman causes at least half the jokers facial scarring, then the joker does the rest to make it look like a smile.........
     
  18. MiniBond Nobody does it better....

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    THX welshman...typing all this is courageous !!!!:woot: :cwink:
     
  19. Baba Ghanoush Registered

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    Theatricality and deception are powerful agents...

    Of course there was a 3 story arc. This is just Nolan throwing out some smoke to cloud peoples' minds.
     
  20. CARNAGE-COMETH Registered

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    I love..absolutely love the idea of Joker mutilating and scarring himself.

    Always hoped that would be the case and its great to hear that it is. It makes him more crazy and insane.

    I think everyone will cut their own face like this after seeing the movie. It will become the newest trend its gonna be the new emo.

    lol
     
  21. MiniBond Nobody does it better....

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    Count me out !!!!!:o :woot:
     
  22. Joe-ker Registered

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    So... WOW! Awesome interview with some REALLY great descriptions, both in the physical and psychological sense. This part sounds particularly interesting...

     
  23. ActuallyRobin Registered

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  24. Joe-ker Registered

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  25. Joe-ker Registered

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    Oh, and your user title "Better than other Robins" I LOL'd. Awesome! :)
     

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