10 years ago, the second movie in Christopher Nolan's "Batman" trilogy was released and changed the franchise forever. Marked by a darker tone and Heath Ledger's Oscar-winning portrayal of The Joker, it was key behind-the-scenes decisions that made the movie a chilling and enduring piece of cinema.
The Soundtrack Hans Zimmer, who has composed soundtracks for “The Pirates of the Caribbean” and “The Lion King,” used an unconventional method to nail down the eerie aura of the Joker’s theme. Zimmer had a cellist saw at a single cello string with a razor blade, generating a scratchy and unsettling effect. The soundtrack earned him an Oscar nomination.
Joker Makeup To produce the imperfect, smeared look of Heath Ledger’s Joker, makeup artist John Caglione Jr. said he had the actor contort his face while applying the famous white base, creating a “lived in” look.
The Batvoice Though Christian Bale’s growly tone has produced hundreds of gruff impressions, his voice was made even raspier in the trilogy’s second film through post-production alterations.
Stanley Kubrick Director Christopher Nolan is an outspoken fan of filmmaker Stanley Kubrick’s work. Kubrick’s films made a mark on Ledger as well as he prepared for his Joker role. Ledger said “A Clockwork Orange” became a starting point for his character. A look inside the actor's famous diary reveals pictures of the film’s anarchist character, Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell).
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Francis Bacon Another one of Nolan’s influences was 20th century figurative painter, Francis Bacon, known for his grotesque imagery and warped faces. Caglione said he used his paintings as a reference for the final Joker look, particularly his smile.
Puppetmaster Ledger sourced from a wide range of influences for his character. Nolan said ventriloquist dummies partially informed The Joker’s jerky movements.
L. Schorr/Chicago Art Department
Musical Influences Ledger also cited “Sex Pistols” frontman and punk rocker Sid Vicious as another inspiration for his character. Additionally, some fans have pointed to an uncanny similarity between The Joker’s cadence and blues singer Tom Waits’ odd drawl during a 1979 interview.
Vivienne Westwood Costume Designer Lindy Hemming took inspiration from fashion designer Vivienne Westwood in creating The Joker’s signature purple and green suit. Westwood rose to prominence during the ‘80s punk era in Britain and coincidentally began her career as a designer for the “Sex Pistols.”
Real Punches Heath Ledger was completely commitment to his Joker. Christian Bale said that Ledger was “egging” him on to hit him during the jailhouse questioning scene, and that there were dents on the walls from where the actor flung himself.
The Hospital In the scene where The Joker blows up Gotham Hospital, the actual building featured in it was an abandoned Brach’s candy factory in Chicago. Creepy.
“You Wanna Know How I Got These Scars?” Prosthetics supervisor Conor O’Sullivan developed the idea for the Joker’s iconic facial scars, known as a “Glasgow” or “Chelsea Smile.” His point of reference came from a man who delivered fruit machines near his workshop, who told O’Sullivan he got his scars from “a dog fight.”
Home Videos Nolan actually had Ledger direct both of the videos The Joker films, one of them being a clip in which the villain questions and is assumed to have killed a Batman imposter. The grimy setting and The Joker’s frantic, offscreen dialogue is arguably one of the creepiest scenes in the movie.