James Franco on Heath Ledger in ‘The Dark Knight’

Actors champion fellow colleagues in 2008 performances

Heath in “The Dark Knight” was great. With any superhero movie villain, everybody is still contending with the huge shadow that Jack Nicholson cast with the first “Batman.” I don’t know what Willem (Dafoe) thought with Green Goblin (in “Spider-Man”), but they have to think about Nicholson. His was such an indelible performance. Heath had to be very conscious of it when he and Christopher Nolan went into their movie. And they did such an incredible job of getting away from the Nicholson character while being faithful to the idea of the Joker. Heath wasn’t the funniest of Jokers, but certainly the more grounded of villains. At least on an emotional level, you could follow why he was doing this stuff; there was real emotional depth.

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