“I warned him.”
Those were the words of Jack Nicholson, in reference to Heath Ledger’s tragic death during the marketing phase for the 2008 blockbuster, The Dark Knight. Nicholson was The Joker in Tim Burton’s 1989 classic, Batman. Between 1989 and 2008, no one has donned the paint of the ‘Clown Prince of Crime’ on the big screen until Ledger. The Dark Knight was released on July 18, 2008—Ledger died from a drug overdose almost five months earlier, on January 22, 2008.
In a 2007 interview with Empire, Ledger said that to prepare for his role of the Joker, he would “[l]ock himself in hotel room for about a month, experimenting with voices.” This allowed Ledger to enter “[t]he realm of a psychopath—someone with very little to no conscience.” Playing the cold blooded, mass-murdering clown earned him his a posthumous Oscar for best supporting actor in 2009. Christopher Nolan—director of The Dark Night—accepted the award on Ledger’s behalf.
The Joker will make an appearance is the upcoming anti-hero movie, Suicide Squad. It is based on a team of incarcerated super-villains who are recruited by the government to undertake high-risk black ops missions in exchange for reduced time on their prison sentences. This time, Jared Leto will take on the role as Joker. Other stars of the movie include Margie Robbie-who is set to play The Joker’s love interest, Harley Quinn—and Will Smith as Deadshot. To show his co-stars that he was hard at work in preparing for his role, Leto sent Robbie a black box that contained a live rat, while sending Smith a letter with bullets. Adam Beach, described the acts of Leto as “beautiful.” The entire cast received a video from Leto that showed footage of a dead hog.
The Joker is one of the most iconic comic book villains of all time. The Joker made his first appearance within the comic book world in 1940. In 2014, IGN released The 25 Greatest Batman Graphic Novels list. and The Joker starred in 6 of them. IGN also named him the #2 best super-villain of all time (Magneto stole the #1 spot).
Usually, The Joker commits a crime, get’s captured by Batman, is sent to Arkham Asylum—Gotham City’s most notable medical facility—and breaks out. In The Dark Knight, The Joker explains this dangerous cycle to the Batman, saying, “[t]his is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness, and I won’t kill you because you’re just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.”
In 2014, Dr. Travis Langley published an article in regards to the psychology of The Joker. In the article, Dr. Robin, a clinical psychologist, stated that if The Joker is deemed to be a psychopath, then “he cannot be rehabilitated.” Dr. Robin continued by saying that the mind of a psychopath is “different,” and that no treatment “really works” to help one.
The director of Suicide Squad, David Ayer, previously directed Fury, which starred Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf. To prepare for his role as a soldier during World War II, LaBeouf cut his face to simulate war wounds, had a dentist remove his teeth, and refused to bathe.
Following Leto’s horrifying acts, Suicide Squad director, David Ayer, hired an on-set therapist for the actors, just in case mental health help is needed during shooting of the movie.
With the amount of dedication that Leto and the entire cast of Suicide Squad are putting into the project, the final product is expected to be of a high caliber. His role made Professor Keating—I mean, Viola Davis—step her game up for the August 2016 blockbuster.