It's safe to say that we lost one of the greatest young actors of his generation when Heath Ledger tragically passed away in January 2008 at the age of 28. But he left us with his unforgettable, Oscar-winning portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight (which came out six months later), giving a performance for the ages that not only continues to stand as one of the screen's great villains but played a major role in making that film one of the finest superhero epics ever.
A new German documentary titled Heath Ledger: Too Young to Die explores the actor and the way he worked, immersing himself so much in each character he played that there have been suggestions that assuming the role of the Joker drove him a little mad himself. While we'll never know if that was really the case, a scene in the documentary features Heath's father, Kim Ledger, flipping through an unsettling diary that Ledger kept while filming The Dark Knight.
The journal is filled with enigmatic scribblings, images from Batman comics and lots of cut-and-pasted photos, including scenes from other films (like A Clockwork Orange, whose character Alex was reportedly an inspiration for Ledger's Joker) and, not surprisingly, pictures of clowns. Kim Ledger says as he thumbs through the book: "He pretty well locked himself up in a hotel room for a month or so to galvanize the upcoming character in his own mind. That was typical of Heath on any movie, he would certainly immerse himself in the character and I think this was just a whole new level."
You can see the diary in the clip below. There's no word on whether the documentary will see a release outside Germany, so for now this is just one brief glimpse into the headspace of the man who defined the Joker for generations to come.
(Via Consequence of Sound)