World Exclusive: The Joker Speaks

He's a cold-blooded mass-murdering clown

Yes, some scamp leaked our Joker cover image yesterday*. But, though they may take our pictures, they will never take our, erm, words. The cover is just the beginning.

In an exclusive interview Empire sat down on the set of The Dark Knight with Heath Ledger, aka The Joker, as well as the rest of the cast and crew, to talk about bringing the greatest villain in comic book (and now cinema) history to the screen again.

"I definitely feared it," says Ledger of taking a role that every fanboy around the world demands to see done right. "Although anything that makes me afraid I guess excites me at the same time. I don’t know if I was fearless, but I certainly had to put on
a brave face and believe that I have something up my sleeve. Something different...”

This is not your Jack Nicholson or Cesar Romero Joker. The new incarnation of the character is cruel and psycho to the core. And getting into that mindset meant Ledger marinading himself in nothing but Joker before shooting.

"It’s a combination of reading all the comic books I could that were relevant to the script and then just closing my eyes and meditating on it," he says. "I sat around in a hotel room in London for about a month, locked myself away, formed a little diary and experimented with voices — it was important to try to find a somewhat iconic voice and laugh. I ended up landing more in the realm of a psychopath — someone with very little to no conscience towards his acts. He’s just an absolute sociopath, a cold-blooded, mass-murdering clown, and Chris has given me free rein. Which is fun, because there are no real boundaries to what The Joker would say or do. Nothing intimidates him, and everything is a big joke"

For more from Ledger, Chris Nolan, Christian Bale, Michael Caine and others, pick up the new issue of Empire. To see the full cover-line free image of The Joker on the Empire cover, click here.

*We know who you are and the dogs have been unleashed in your direction. And they're the ones with bees in their mouths and when they bark they shoot bees at you.