Here’s The Story Behind Heath Ledger’s Iconic Transformation Into The Joker

It’s been over eight years since Heath Ledger died from an accidental intoxication from prescription drugs, just a few months after wrapping up his harrowing, award-winning role as The Joker in The Dark Knight.

It has been widely debated as to whether the preparation of the role was the driving cause for Ledger’s death or if the timing caused the media to jump to unfounded conclusions.

As Uproxx points out, Ledger was halfway through filming The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassas when he passed and director Terry Gilliam chalked up the claims that the intense preparation for the role lead to his death as ‘bullshit.’

Heath was so solid. His feet were on the ground and he was the least neurotic person I’ve ever met. Heath was just great and that’s why it became so impossible to understand. But for the outside world they had to sort of invent a reason. He was incredibly intelligent, generous, sweet, wise, solid as a rock, and unbelievably playful. So when he acted it was like playing, but wherever that playing went he followed it fearlessly. But then I would say ‘cut’ and we’d be talking about football. So there was none of this twisted neurosis that a lot of actors suffer from.

Whatever the case, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that before Heath passed, he left the world with one of the most gripping on-screen performances ever. There’s no expiration date on that.

Matt Keohan Avatar
Matt’s love of writing was born during a sixth grade assembly when it was announced that his essay titled “Why Drugs Are Bad” had taken first prize in D.A.R.E.’s grade-wide contest. The anti-drug people gave him a $50 savings bond for his brave contribution to crime-fighting, and upon the bond’s maturity 10 years later, he used it to buy his very first bag of marijuana.