Actor Heath Ledger passed away on January 22, 2008, months before the release of The Dark Knight and the debut of his take on The Joker. Not only did the film itself change the perception of comic book movies, but the actor's performance went on to become a defining iteration of the DC Comics villain, which ultimately earned him a posthumous Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
The actor's official cause of death was a fatal mix of prescription drugs, leading many to jump to conclusions that playing the character of the Joker took a devastating emotional toll on Ledger. His co-star in the film, Michael Jai White, previously detailed his frustrations with this misrepresentation.
"It upsets me that Heath gets put in a category, like he was a method actor who inhabited this darkness that consumed him because people write that story in their head," White confessed to The Hollywood Reporter. "And that couldn't have been further from the truth. Heath was playful. When the director would say 'cut,' he would go back to this easygoing, very affable type of guy. Even when there was a day player or people in shorter roles, naturally they tend to give him his privacy and space, but Heath would be on the one initiating the conversation. He was that type of guy."
Despite his career being cut short, Ledger delivered audiences multiple impressive performances which earned him a slew of awards, with his performance as The Joker setting new standards for what films in the superhero genre could accomplish.
Scroll down to see what fans are saying on the anniversary of the actor's death.
I was watching.. DARK KNIGHT.. because I was REMEMBERING Heath Ledger today. It's his Death Anniversary he died on 22/Jan/2008.— Allan ? ? (@TheCarGuy007) January 22, 2019
When I first watched "The Dark Knight" I became fan of Joker and also fan of Heath Ledger....— Shuvo (@Shuvo58131739) January 22, 2019
That was the first movie I watched of Heath Ledger...Then I didn't know he is dead..
When I knew that he is dead it was a shock for me..
R.I.P. #HeathLedger..#11yearswithoutHeathLedger pic.twitter.com/pOuDGPM9g5
'The Dark Knight' (2008) Dir. by Christopher Nolan, DP: Wally Pfister, with Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ron Dean & many others, Remembering Heath Ledger, who died on this day,1-22-08. pic.twitter.com/QCtkHnzgQN— Classicman Film (@classicsman70) January 22, 2019
Today we are thinking of the late Heath Ledger. Ledger featured in Home and Away in addition to other television appearances. Ledger also won an Oscar, Golden Globe and a BAFTA award as the Best Actor in a Supporting Role as ‘The Joker’ in The Dark Knight. pic.twitter.com/jUHidCKPby— Elstree Studios (@ElstreeStudios) January 22, 2019
Today its 11 years since Heath Ledger passed away. The Joker in The Dark Knight (2008) is and will always be my favorite preformance of all time. I miss him so much.
Rest in peace pic.twitter.com/HXlQscTj5M— Hermione (@spdrvrs) January 22, 2019
in loving memory of heath ledger. im rewatching the dark knight♡— break up w ur gf im bored (@haIseyivy) January 22, 2019