Delve into the late Heath Ledger’s short but acclaimed life as an actor, and you never know what you might find. As part of a German documentary called Heath Ledger: Too Young to Die, a very detailed (and spooky) diary Ledger made to develop his character as the Joker in The Dark Knight has been unearthed. In a clip from the documentary (above), Ledger’s father flips through the diary while explaining how his son stepped into his character’s shoes.
“He pretty well locked himself up in a hotel, in his apartment, for a month or so, to sort of galvanize the upcoming character in his own mind,” said Kim Ledger in the doc. “That was typical of Heath on any movie. He would certainly immerse himself in the upcoming character. I think this was just a whole new level.”
The diary, which includes ripped-out photos of clowns, hyenas, scenes from Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and from the comic Batman, depicts how Ledger prepared to become the Joker. And it definitely sheds some light into the internal struggle he faced while playing the Joker. On one page, he wrote “Chaos” all in caps, and in green. And there were just two words on the last page: “Bye Bye.” Just months before The Dark Knight was released, the actor died from an “accidental overdose of prescription drugs.”
As noted by The New York Daily News, his intense dedication to playing the character may have contributed to his early demise. He told reporters that he slept just two hours each night while shooting The Dark Knight in 2008. “I couldn’t stop thinking,” he said at the time. “My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going.”
Heath posthumously won an Oscar for his role as the Joker in 2009.