Heath Ledger Says His Joker Has ‘Zero Empathy’

Even as filming continues on “The Dark Knight,” Heath Ledger is reflecting on the character he has finished portraying. “It’s the most fun I’ve had with a character and probably will ever have,” Ledger told me today with a mix of wistfulness and relief. Relief because as the Oscar nominee said, “It was an exhausting process. At the end of the day I couldn’t move. I couldn’t talk. I was absolutely wrecked.”

So who is the Joker we’ll meet next summer? “He has zero empathy,” Ledger said, adding that one of the goals for this character was to scare the crap out of audiences next year. Asked about the inspiration for the performance, Ledger cited nothing less than classic Kubrick. “’A Clockwork Orange’ was a very early starting point for Christian [Bale] and I. But we kind of flew far away from that pretty quickly and into another world altogether.”

When I brought up Sid Vicious as another reported influence on the character, he confirmed the punk rocker was on his mind. “Yeah, I guess so,” attested Ledger. “There’s a bit of everything in him. There’s nothing that consistent.”

Ledger quickly added with a smile, “There are a few more surprises to him.”