Actor Heath Ledger's descent to the darker side of life may have begun a year ago while preparing for his role as the Joker for the upcoming Warner Bros. film "The Dark Knight."The New York Post reports that preparations for his role had the Aussie actor holed up for six weeks alone as he refined his version of the insane Batman bad guy by experimenting with looks, voices and poses.
The Post claims he also "kept a journal of the Joker's psychology. On one page was a list of things the villain might find funny, including AIDS."
Fans of director Christopher Nolan's film have been eating up the viral marketing campaign unleashed by Warner Bros.promoting the film.
In November, Warner Bros. teased the first six minutes of the movie and left no doubt about where Ledger had taken his character.
Ledger's Joker is chillingly demented, psychotic and mesmerizing.
"I'd say that he is the scariest thing I've ever seen on screen," co-star Michael Caine told Movieweb.
Ledger's meticulous preparation obviously served him well. The Post noted his influences drew "heavily from the anarchistic droogs in 'A Clockwork Orange,' and Sid Vicious."
The Post noted that Ledger and director Christopher Nolan also found the Joker's first appearance in 1940's Batman No. 1 comic, and used it as a visual imprint.
"The corrupted clown face is built into the icon of the Joker, but we gave a Francis Bacon spin to it," Nolan told MSNBC. "This corruption, this decay in the texture of the look itself. It's grubby. You can almost imagine what he smells like."
FX makeup was refined for this role.
The mask is "made up of three pieces. It's a new technology. It's not a prosthetic," Ledger told SFX magazine. "This guy created these silicone pieces, and they stamp them on. It's a lot quicker and super-flexible. You hardly even know it's on your face."
The entire process left Ledger fully exhausted.
"It was an exhausting process," Ledger told MTVnews in a taped interview. "At the end of the day, I couldn't move. I couldn't talk. I was absolutely wrecked."
This exhaustion led him to begin taking Ambien. "Last week, I probably slept an average of two hours a night," he told The New York Times in November. "I couldn't stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going."