Before everyone goes off the deep end, this is not a top 10 list. There are way too many actors who have done great things that could be put on to a single list. This is also not a list of the world’s greatest actors to have ever lived.
In this series of blog posts, I am going to list examples of, where if a different actor were chosen, their films would have not had the success they did.
Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight
Oh, I can feel the controversy already brewing. Is this guy really suggesting that Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight series would have failed without Heath Ledger?
Well, maybe. Here’s the issue. Anyone born before the mid 80’s, who doesn’t have Batman comics in protective packaging, had one image come to mind when they thought of the Joker. The white faced, sadistic grin of Jack Nicholson from Tim Burton’s Batman franchise has become an icon. A tough act to follow.
So when it was announced that the 20 something year old, Australian actor, known mostly for his roles in romantic comedies (and one well known cowboy flick) was to reprise the role, the Internet went a blaze. Expectations were lowered, as no one gave this kid a fighting chance to give us not only a new Joker, but a believable performance that fit into Christopher Nolan’s darker, more realistic trilogy.
When the Dark Knight hit theaters, the recently deceased Heath Ledger showed the world just what the Joker might have been. A truly disturbed sociopath, who had no care for money or power; someone who just wanted to “see the world burn.” The real trick to this was Ledger’s choice to personify Tom Waits as the voice and mannerisms behind the character.
Who is Tom Waits? Take a look at this interview and meet the man who inspired the Joker.
With a tough act to follow, low expectations, a superb performance, and an unfortunate death, Heath Ledger commanded the attention of not only moviegoers, but also the mass media.
All of this then led to a first in Hollywood. Heath Ledger had won the very first Oscar for acting in a comic book movie, thus making history for The Dark Knight and giving it the success it would not have had without him.
*The Dark Knight rated 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. 7% higher than its sequel The Dark Knight Rises, and 9% higher than Batman Begins.