Hopeful about Heath Ledger's Joker

I was forwarded this article this past weekend and I have to say, I'm getting pumped for Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight. Of course, we already had that trailer that showed us absolutely nothing of the movie. And nothing gets me more excited about a movie than a teaser that shows absolutely nothing. But seriously, that trailer plays well: you feel the excitement build while the Batman logo takes shape. It's pretty fun.

I was also a little taken aback by the small bit we heard of Heath Ledger in the teaser. I don't know what I was expecting, but Ledger might have found the right balance of comic villainy and realism just as his co-star Christian Bale did with his Batman voice. Though something I read in this article may have gotten me even more excited about Ledger's Joker. In the article, Michael Caine is quoted as having said:

"I tell you the big surprise in the new ‘Batman’ — Heath Ledger as the Joker ... he’s fantastic. He’s gone in a different direction than Jack (Nicholson) … Jack was like a really scary old, nasty old uncle with a funny face. Heath is like the most murderous psychopath you’ve ever seen on the screen."

This doesn't really surprise me, but it gets me amped all the same. I wouldn't go so far to say that I loved the casting of Ledger as The Joker. But I did think it was interesting. Below are the top three reasons I think Ledger is going to be laughing his way to the bank on this one.

1.) It wasn't an obvious casting choice.

I prefer non-obvious casting decisions. It shows the creators are thinking outside the box and it usually gets me excited to see what the actor's interpretation of the role is going to be. I'm very interested in what Nolan and Ledger have in mind for the role. They clearly didn't go for personality on this one. Nolan just wanted a really good actor and he got one.

2.) "He's gone in a different direction than Jack."

Thank God. There would have been nothing more embarrassing than watching Ledger just trying to imitate Nicholson's Joker performance. It seems Ledger is going the more method, legitimately scary route here and that's a good thing.

3.) The guy's got charm.

Come on, you have to admit Ledger's got likeability. You saw 10 Things I Hate About You. You saw how Julia Stiles wouldn't give any guy the time of day in that movie. No way, no how. But she gave into the Aussie charm. I, myself, have never experienced the Aussie charm, but I'm sure it's a veritable force not to be taken lightly. Heck, I'm swooning just writing this and I'm not easily swooned.

Maybe we'll all be swooning next summer when The Dark Knight is finally released. Or maybe we'll all just be really freaked out. Either way, I'm there.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Dre writes three times a week for Film.com. He has Aussie charm, minus the Aussie. And charm. Email him!