The untimely death of Heath Ledger was shocking and sad not least because he was so young but also because he impressed so much in his work. Whether it was industry insiders or fans, like myself, who’d grown up with him as a reliable hartthrobby leading man and were eager to watch him take the Joker to places we’d never seen the character before in cinema, there were a lot of people who felt that a historic acting career had been cut short just as it was starting to hit its stride.
And, okay, I’m a little ashamed to say that one of my other immediate thoughts was to wonder how this would affect The Dark Knight and the movies that came after it, and how Christopher Nolan‘s uncompromising commitment to his stories and their thematic arcs would conflict with the desire to do right by a colleague now gone. Nolan himself talked to Empire about how the Joker will affect The Dark Knight Rises, and the rest is going behind the cut for those who don’t want that question answered until they actually see the movie. So if you’re one of those people don’t read past this point.
We’re not addressing The Joker at all. That is something I felt very strongly about in terms of my relationship with Heath and the experience I went through with him on The Dark Knight. I didn’t want to in any way try and account for a real-life tragedy. That seemed inappropriate to me. We just have a new set of characters and a continuation of Bruce Wayne’s story. Not involving The Joker.
I had friends who, after seeing The Dark Knight insisted that the villain of the next movie had to be the Joker, and that somebody would obviously have to be hired to replace him. I disagreed at the time, and still do. It’s easy to forget that the people who make movies are human beings, who, while working together, develop relationships. As fun as it is to cast roles in our heads, in this case its worth remembering that the loss of a friend understandably motivates people to preserve and hold precious the work and life of that person. But I have to admit that the writer in me is desperately curious to know what cameo or reference Nolan might have made with the Joker if Heath Ledger were still with us today, just to know how he would have fit the character into Batman’s Rise. But that’s the writer in me, not the empathetic person who knows the difference between characters and people.
(via Comics Alliance.)