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Christian Bale calls Heath Ledger 'incredibly intense' in 'The Dark Knight' — Hmmm, but what will Oscar voters say?

May 27, 2008 |  5:56 pm

Heath Ledger died in January several months after completing his role as the Joker in the "The Dark Knight" opposite Christian Bale. In anticipation of the July 18 opening of this second installment in the renewed Batman franchise, Bale talked to Details about the film and acting opposite Ledger, who could score a rare, belated Oscar nomination.


"He was incredibly intense in his performance," said Bale, "but incredibly mellow and laid-back." For Bale, Ledger's commitment to the part was commendable. "Certainly there was this great anarchistic streak to it, just getting dirtier than anybody's envisioned the Joker before."

Back in March, director Christopher Nolan told the New York Times that Ledger's performance as the Joker is "stunning" and "iconic" and that "it's going to just blow people away."

If he turns out to be that good, Ledger might well earn an Academy Award nomination. When Jack Nicholson played the role in director Tim Burton's "Batman" in 1989, he didn't get an Oscar nod, but he was nominated in the supporting race at BAFTA and in the lead comedy/musical category at the Golden Globes.

Ledger was nominated for the lead-actor Oscar for "Brokeback Mountain" in 2005 but lost to Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Capote"). However, he was a winner with one top kudofest that year: the New York Film Critics Circle, where he beat Hoffman by a score of 35 to 33 in the best-actor race.

Heath Ledger might be considered a sentimental favorite if he's nominated in either lead or supporting for "The Dark Knight," but Hollywooders are notoriously hard-hearted. Only one acting Oscar has ever been bestowed posthumously: Peter Finch ("Network") in 1976.


The parallel for Ledger may be with another young heartthrob star who died tragically after demonstrating impressive early promise. James Dean was nominated twice posthumously — for "East of Eden" (1955) and "Giant" (1956) — and lost both bids.

To read the full interview with Christian Bale - CLICK HERE