In almost every genre of movie making, whether you speak of a romantic comedy, action thriller, suspense, drama or sci fi mind-numbing adventure, there always is a special place reserved for one critical highlight of the movie. This highlight may well be understood as the Ultimate Selling Point of the venture that actors aim to pilot their creative wagons with.
In Mission Impossible series- Tom Cruise and his daring stunts were the central pivot that made viewers remain to the edge of their seats in a bid to derive real value for which they come to relish cinema. Similarly, in Mr. Bean series- Rowan Atkinson’s goofy and effortless madness moved us to laughter and to tears. And, therefore when you speak of one central novelty about a super-hero movie, the need for that Ultimate Selling Point becomes all the more necessary. Which is the case with The Dark Knight Series. We did have a Batman, the solitary silent protector and guardian angel of Gotham. But, just think of it- what was the single most important reason that made Bruce Wayne sit up from the comfortable expanse of his mansion and put on the attire called the Bat-Suit? Would the hero in him have persevered against all odds, had it none been for the real anti-thesis of his heroic existence?
Where there is light, there has to be great relevance of darkness. Similarly, you cannot relish the essence of victory in its entirety unless you have been submitted utterly to the thought of defeat and the enervating thought of fear, taking absolute control over you.
The Joker, therefore is as important to the central character of the Batman’s existence, if not more. And, it isn’t for reasons that outweigh the needless want to have a character that wreaks havoc. But, for delivering audiences who come to celebrate the triumph of Gotham city’s savior, one who passes every possible limit of forbearance- those antics that make the Joker as harmful as he is catastrophic in damaging Gotham and as vicious in his totalitarian agenda as he is aloof from any clear purpose other than that of clever decimation of peace.
The character of Joker in Batman movies has almost become a repository of collective acting talents, with each actor delivering time and again scathingly vivid descriptions of on-screen badness, the search of which has lead directors to look beyond the spooky craziness of a Jack Nicholson whose Joker was part madness personified and part vengeance master.
But, in Heath Ledger from the Dark Knight fame, Christopher Nolan unleashed the most definitive edge of creativity that hurt in every bit of its uncoiling as it inspired “goosebumpish” awe. Ledger wasn’t just the Joker, he became the clown that terrified as much as he exhibited pure, unashamed contempt for law and order. Ledger’s dark portrayal was darker than we all thought. So much so that in his own portrayal of just an insane, cynical character conceived in an award winning script- he took a toll so brutal onto himself that it consumed him in the very end, leaving us viewers with stains whose pungent smell on an HBO, Star Movies or that DVD is so sharp that it emanates a vicious combination of terror and insanity.
No one who has been a witness to this great charismatic cinematic portrayal is ever going to get enough of it, nor are we going to let Heath Ledger’s Joker be forgotten any soon. But, who can be the possible choices that may perhaps attempt, if not master, the scintillating craft of playing the horrible crown, lets have a look:
1. Johnny Depp
A born actor and a mature big screen performer, Depp has to his acting credit piles of uncompromising roles wherein he has echoed the buoyant spirit of a fictitious Captain Jack Sparrow and moved us with the despair of Edward Scissorhands. His on screen vulnerability combined with the uneasiness to release emotions may concoct a figure that may just be disturbing enough to let go of. He is our number one choice
2. Sam Riley
He has a deep, sonorous voice. He’s got the looks, the senile anger in the baritone when he shouts and his tacit portrayals in moving drama’s have gone on to confirm that the young Brit actor is well-versed with taking his chances with a really dark character. For those of us, who have doubts about Riley’s versatility must see “On the Road”.
3. Robert Downey Jr.
A mega star. Iron man. Downright crazy man and the man who damaged the ephemeral charm of a gentlemanly Sherlock Holmes and made him seem a crazy funny, self-depricating lunatic who can kick butt just as easily as he can attempt to concoct the most dangerous potion of a poison chalice, much worse than the one consumed by Socrates; Hemlock.
Downey is the real “uppy” these days for giving effortless ease to a range of characters. He first moved eyebrows for his tumultuous presentation of Charlie Chaplin in the early 90s biopic based on the legend tramp. He later moved audiences through his part in Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. He was the father who very nearly missed the delivery of his first son being stuck with the pot-smoking Zack Gallifianakis in Due Date. And, finally he claimed glory as the unassuming and clever as a cat living with 9 lives all at once in Sherlock Holmes.
If he is ever considered as the Joker, we can be sure to have ourselves on a really entertaining and scary ride. The meanness that exudes with every dialogue of his matches perfectly the uncanny ability to deliver long phrases at lightning speed, uncoiling the tightness captured in the essence of the script.
4. Joaquin Phoenix
Those who have seen River Phoenix’s brother on screen in Gladiator or in Her or the mega movie star in Walk the Line would surely have noted a restlessness that wishes to be rescued somehow.
An extremely talented actor, he seems as though he can leave no stone unturned and no role untouched in his leap to surpass a rather tumultuous career, where he has scored through a range of unconventional roles that mostly have bordered on the grey area rather than being a positive, anti-villain character.
And, this is where he can be so good as the Joker, for he possesses the stuff that can pump the adrenaline, not through the heavy fist fighting action but by spilling out that extremely scary and cold stare right at Batman’s face.
5. Tom Hardy
Known and revered by worldwide audiences for his massively successful portrayal as Bane, the evil mercenary who broke the Batman’s body, Hardy mastered voice modulation, the art of body building in a bid to do justice to Bane’s mighty evil frame and took audiences by surprise by delivering punchy dialogues straight out of that haunting voice that has nightmare written all over it.
Already well versed with playing the evil part, and displaying great acumen to portray a destructor in-charge, while he may not look the part of a Joker, Hardy’s nasty evilness would take this character far in doing more than just body damaging the Batman.
6. Kevin Bacon
A really fit, agile and almost ‘refusing to age’ Bacon has done pretty much everything you would expect an actor spending over 3 decades in Hollywood to do. From sharing on screen space with Gary Sinise and Tom Hanks in Apollo Eleven to being really shady and wacky as the Hollowman, there are hardly are tough roles that Bacon hasn’t come to attempt.
One reckons, Bacon’s Joker would be the masterful and vengeful destructor who would stop at nothing at quizzing Gotham’s Dark Knight with puzzles whose answers may not lie within the veil of the silent protector that Wayne’s hero wishes to become.
Batman, then, would need more than weaponry and some impish clever far-sightedness to contest the most evil man Gotham has ever encountered.
7. Jim Carrey
A career spent largely in depression, suffering the worst form of it through Bipolar Disorder and an intrinsic desire to personify the wicked, clowny, scary-bordering on self destructive elements, Jim Carrey was nearly quite scary as the Grinch who stole Chirstmas, even though the Grinch was supposed to be a funny character.
It isn’t difficult to spot a sort of pot consuming fiend look in Carrey’s clever portrayals, that have seen him ridicule those unintelligent audiences who think of him as being just a comic actor. Picture- The Majestic, Lemony Snicket’s : a series of unfortunate events and Carrey playing the wicked goon in Batman Forever.
Carrey knows what it takes to unfurl the madness that lies within and if he can train himself to personify evil’s most wicked face, then we all have a great actor in contention for the Joker’s part.
8. Jude Law
Most of us would easily slip this suggestion into the trash bin. Law after all, is this nice charming guy who for years has blatantly been reduced to the most lofty albeit boring tag of being a “chocolate hero”. But, for those of us who encountered Law as the cold blooded sniper in the famous Road to Perdition (2002) realized how happy he was in assassinating someone like a Tom Hanks on screen. His character was dark, edgy and clearly bordering on insanity.
Law has often dashed his critics whose lives collectively are as insignificant in front of the significance of his name for his sheer presence in totally trash movies, which if not had been for Jude- would have been staple stuff that even swines would have refused to eat being rude-food.
Law’s nastiness as the self-centered flirt in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1998) first confronted the notion that he cannot play bad characters, even though his was a good looking spoilt rich brat depiction as Paltrow’s lover.
In Jude Law, lies Hollywood great spirit for experimentation. He is more than the sum of the awards he has won for his charming looks. In Law, we have an actor who might be ready to break all conventional laws and ideas fixated with taking awful looking actors to play a baddie. Ledger, himself was as charming and nice looking as they come.