1. The 40 Year Old Virgin Wanted To Be The Joker
While actors such as Steve Carell, Adrien Brody and Robin Williams expressed interest in playing the Joker, “The Dark Knight” director Christopher Nolan never considered any actor other than Heath Ledger, offering him the part before there was even a finished script.
2. Katie Holmes Broke Up With Batman
Katie Holmes was asked to return as Rachel Dawes, but turned down the chance to reprise her role. She is rumored to have left because Tom Cruise was jealous of Christian Bale.
3. Scream Journal
Heath Ledger kept a “Joker journal” in preparation for his role, scribbling down the darkest and most perverse things he could think of to try and get inside the mind of one of pop culture’s most famous psychopaths. Ledger wrote out a list of things that would make the Joker laugh, including blind babies, landmines and AIDS. He worked on this journal during a six week period of seclusion in a hotel room.
4. Citizen Wayne
Much as he did when he screened “Blade Runner” for the crew of “Batman Begins,” Christopher Nolan invited cast and crew to watch the movies he wanted to emulate in the making of “The Dark Knight.” The films Nolan screened were “Citizen Kane,” “A Clockwork Orange,” “King Kong,” “Black Sunday,” “Cat People,” “Heat,” “Stalag 17” and — naturally — “Batman Begins.”
5. Senator Batman
Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy has a cameo in “The Dark Knight,” being threatened by the Joker at the cocktail party. Leahy is a huge Batman fan. He has also done voice acting in “Batman: The Animated Series,” appeared in 1997’s “Batman and Robin,” and has a cameo in “The Dark Knight Rises.”
6. The Hulk, Wolverine And Sabretooth Were Almost Two-Face
Before the role eventually went to Aaron Eckhart, other actors considered for the part of Harvey Dent/Two-Face include Mark Ruffalo, Hugh Jackman and Liev Schreiber.
The hospital blown up by the Joker in “The Dark Knight” was an abandoned Brach’s candy factory in Chicago. The explosion triggered panicked calls to police from residents who feared a terrorist attack.
8. Batman And (Almost) Robin
An early draft of “The Dark Knight” referenced Rachel Dawes’ relationship to the Grayson family. The first Robin in the comics was Dick Grayson. Christopher Nolan nixed the reference in the final draft so there would be no expectation that a Robin would appear in his trilogy.
“The Dark Knight” had several sequences filmed with IMAX cameras, the first time the cameras have been used in feature filmmaking. Nolan is a fan thanks to their unparalleled resolution. The problem with IMAX cameras is that they are huge, loud and expensive. Special mounts had to be made to carry their immense weight and dialogue during IMAX scenes had to be replaced in post-production due to the noise.
At the time of filming, there were only four IMAX cameras in the world. One of them was destroyed during the the chase sequence with the semi-truck and the SWAT vans. An IMAX camera costs $500,000.
11. Bat Manuel Begins
Nestor Carbonel, who plays the mayor in “The Dark Knight,” played a Batman parody character named Bat Manuel in the live action Tick television show.
12. Hong Kong Spewey
Filming in China for “The Dark Knight” presented unique challenges. The river in Hong Kong was so polluted that a planned scene involving Batman diving into the water was scrapped, and local bureaucrats were so meddling that much of the shoot had to be abandoned and created later with CGI.
13. Directed By Heath Ledger
Heath Ledger shot and directed the Joker’s two warning videos from “The Dark Knight” himself. The above is a behind-the-scenes photo of Ledger shooting one of the videos.
14. Two-Face Is Bobby Kennedy
The Harvey Dent of “The Dark Knight” was partly inspired by Robert Kennedy, in that he is a crusading attorney who takes on the mob, but has a vindictive side.
The production used the alias of “Rory’s First Kiss” to try and evade media attention while they filmed. Rory is the name of Christopher Nolan’s son. Finished prints of the film were delivered to theaters under the alias “Oliver’s Army.”
16. Buffy Was Almost Rachel
Sarah Michelle Gellar was considered for the role of Rachel Dawes after Katie Holmes departed. Rachel McAdams and Emily Blunt were also considered before the role eventually went to Maggie Gyllenhaal.
17. The Joker Is A Sex Pistol And A Droog
Heath Ledger partially based his interpretation of the Joker on Sex Pistol’s bassist Syd Vicious and Malcolm McDowell’s character in “A Clockwork Orange.”
18. Batsuit 2.0
So that Christian Bale would have more mobility, and to prevent the crippling headaches and claustrophobia Bale suffered while filming “Batman Begins,” a more flexible Batsuit was constructed. It was made from 200 pieces of fiberglass, rubber and nylon.
19. The Joker’s Costume Is Iggy Pop/Vivienne Westwood Chic
The costume designers based Heath Ledger’s attire on an eclectic mix of everything from Sex Pistol’s frontman Johnny Rotten, Vivienne Westwood, Iggy Pop and Alexander McQueen.
20. Spawn Vs. The Joker
Michael Jai White, who plays Gambol — one of the gangsters killed by the Joker — also played the titular character in “Spawn.”
21. Drugstore Joker
Heath Ledger himself designed the Joker makeup using cosmetics he bought at a drugstore. The makeup team then replicated the look using high tech, stamped silicone that looked the same every day of filming.
22. A Long Movie
The IMAX print of “The Dark Knight” is 9.5 miles long.
23. Batman Is A Great Place To Visit, Not So Much To Live
Before the release of “The Dark Knight” on DVD and Blu-Ray, Warner Bros. was sued for copyright infringement by the small town of Batman, Turkey. The case was dismissed.
24. Tony Soprano Vs. Batman
James Gandolfini and Bob Hoskins were considered for the role of gangster Sal Moroni, but the role eventually went to Eric Roberts.
25. Nurse Matilda
When the Joker is dressed as a nurse, he wears a nametag that says “Matilda.” Matilda is the name of Heath Ledger’s daughter.
26. The News Reporter Is Rusty Griswold
Mike Engel, the reporter who is kidnapped by the Joker, is played by Anthony Michael Hall. Hall is perhaps best known for appearing in such ’80s films as “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” “16 Candles,” “The Breakfast Club” and “Weird Science.”
27. Immortal Performance
Heath Ledger won 32 posthumous acting awards for his role as The Joker, including an Oscar. Ledger is only the second actor in Academy Awards history to win a competitive Oscar after he died, the first being Peter Finch for his role in 1976’s “Network.”