Heath Ledger passed away in 2008, but many fans are still puzzled over the Australian actor’s untimely death. His final completed performance was his Academy Award-winning turn as The Joker in 2008’s The Dark Knight, and many have speculated that Ledger’s obsession with the role may have played a part in his passing.
Ledger’s death was officially ruled as an accidental overdose, but a popular urban legend holds that his mental state could have been negatively affected by the Joker role, with even former Joker actor Jack Nicholson famously quipping that he’d “warned him” about the part.
Part of Ledger’s process for getting into the mind of the iconic DC Comics villain involved locking himself into a hotel room and filling a diary with notes, photographs, and even The Joker’s own thoughts.
Ledger’s “Joker diary” has been a subject of fan interest since his death, and was finally revealed by the late actor’s father, Kim, on Thursday.
For a documentary called Too Young To Die, Kim flipped through the diary, regarding it as an impressive example of his late son’s commitment to his work.
“This is the diary,” Kim says in the clip, which was originally posted to Reddit. “He pretty well locked himself up in a hotel room for weeks. He galvanized the upcoming character. That was typical of Heath,” he said.
“He would do that. He liked to dive into his characters, but this time he really took it up a notch,” Kim said. “He immersed himself in the upcoming character on every level level.”
For Kim, a particularly disturbing entry occurs near the end of Ledger’s Joker diary, revealing a make-up test photograph of Heath in full Joker attire. On the back of the page, the words “bye bye” are scribbled in silver marker.
“This is a make-up test which was done eight months before. Before the end of the shooting he wrote ‘bye bye’ on the back of the page,” his father said. “It was hard to see this.”
Prior to his death, Ledger gave an interview in which he admitted that he “feared” the Joker role, but that he wanted to make sure he gave a performance unlike anything that has ever been seen.
“I sat around in a hotel room in London for about a month, locked myself away, formed a little diary and experimented with voices – it was important to try to find a somewhat iconic voice and laugh,” he said. “I ended up landing more in the realm of a psychopath – someone with very little to no conscience towards his acts.”
You can check out the video of Heath Ledger’s Joker diary below: