While audiences eagerly await to see more of his incarnation of the character, The Batman actor Barry Keoghan says that Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight will always be the best. Created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson, the Joker first made his debut in the comics with 1940’s Batman Issue No. 1, which ultimately established him as the archenemy for the protector of Gotham in the 80-plus years since. A variety of actors have brought the Joker to life on screen, ranging from Cesar Romero’s campier portrayal in Adam West’s Batman series to Jared Leto’s largely panned incarnation in David Ayer’s Suicide Squad.
One of the more praised live-action versions of the Joker came with Heath Ledger’s performance in The Dark Knight, in which the Clown Prince of Crime began his reign of terror on Gotham City, killing off a judge, a police commissioner, and even Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Rachel. For his performance, Ledger received both a posthumous Golden Globe and Academy Award, becoming one of the most memorable to play the character alongside Mark Hamill’s vocal work on Batman: The Animated Series. With Leto’s future as the character largely unknown, Warner Bros. has shifted to bringing other actors into the fold, including the Joaquin Phoenix-led Joker movies and Barry Keoghan’s Joker in Matt Reeves’ The Batman, both of which are set apart from the DC Extended Universe.
While speaking with Collider to discuss his work in The Banshees of Inisherin, Barry Keoghan reflected on his time as The Joker for Matt Reeves’ The Batman. In discussing his approach to play the iconic villain, Keoghan said he didn’t look to any prior adaptation of the character in order to bring him to life, though did note that Heath Ledger’s Joker is still the best version of the DC antagonist on screen. See what Keoghan said below:
It’s very intimidating [playing the Joker]. Heath Ledger was the best for me. So you have a lot of people to draw from and that. But again, you bring your version to it. That’s what I do with any character I play, is no one has seen my version of it. And again, going back to it, I don’t want to be like so-and-so, and follow that method and that method. I want to do me. I want to bring my version, because I feel that is new in a way, and unique, that when you bring your version no one has seen it. And that may make people relate to it. So it was intimidating, but I was excited for it.
Why Heath Ledger’s Joker Performance Is Unbeatable
Nearly 15 years since it first hit screens, The Dark Knight not only continues to sit high among lists of the best comic book movies of all-time, but also sits as arguably the best portrayal of the Joker with Ledger’s performance. Unlike Romero and Jack Nicholson before him, Ledger brought the right amount of restraint to his portrayal to keep the character grounded, while also largely tapping into his chaotic nature, namely his laughing hysterically while being beaten to a pulp by Christian Bale’s Batman in an interrogation and his tick of constantly licking his lips. To this day, Ledger remains one of the only actors to bring home an Oscar for a comic book movie, with Phoenix later bringing home his own statue for his performance in Todd Phillips’ Joker.
Though he may not hold a candle to The Dark Knight‘s Heath Ledger just yet, The Batman‘s Barry Keoghan performance as the Joker has already scored largely favorable reception from critics and audiences alike, with the Irish actor delivering his own take on the character. Keoghan recently addressed his potential return for The Batman 2, stating he had yet to be contacted to come back, while Reeves had previously indicated that his inclusion in the first film wasn’t inherently to set him up for the sequel, while not entirely ruling out his coming back. While audiences await word on Keoghan’s potential return, they can revisit both The Batman and The Dark Knight streaming on HBO Max now.
Next: The Batman’s Deleted Joker Scene Showed Heath Ledger Still Can’t Be BeatSource: Collider
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