I guess this is becoming comic book week. I didn’t plan it that way, it just sort of happened.
Ok well not quite true. I did have an Ant-Man theme planned. All stories about ants, growing, shrinking, or anything else tangently related to Ant-Man. That fizzled quicker than my “Week of topics relating to Maine” idea I had before I went on vacation that went no where. I think this works best when I don’t plan it out, I just grab what looks interesting that day. But anyway, here is another comic related topic. I doubt anyone here will mind.
Did you know that Heath Ledger improvised the Joker’s clap in The Dark Night during the Gordon promotion scene?
Movie improves are everywhere, even if we don’t know them. Many famous scenes are made up on the fly by the actors. In this scene Gordon gets his promotion while the Joker is in custody and everyone is applauding. Screenrant.com had this listed among their 32 greatest unscripted moments in cinematic history.
The Dark Knight (2008)
Director – Christopher Nolan
As the Joker (Heath Ledger) waits quietly alone in jail after having been arrested by Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman), Mayor Garcia (Nestor Carbonell) shows up to look over Gotham’s latest scourge. While there he also promotes Gordon to the position of Commissioner.
As the officers in the room applaud the announcement Ledger begins, unscripted, to slowly clap – never changing his facial expression. It was just a simple improvisation but one that was unsettling and darkly brilliant.
Not being one to take a single site at face value I looked for additonal sources. SoundOnSight had a story on unscripted sceces and theier decription was pretty much exactly as ScreenRant
A Round of Applause – The Dark Knight
So much has been said about the late Heath Ledger’s turn as the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s superlative The Dark Knight, and rightly so. A menacing, unpredictable and yet somehow endearing performance, every frame Ledger appears in is a thing to cherish, whether it be magic tricks or bank heists.
But one small moment really goes some way into showing just how invested in the dark and macabre character the Aussie truly was. After the Joker has been arrested by Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman), he is held alone in a cell to silently watch proceedings, as Nestor Carbonell’s Mayor Garcia arrives to take a look at Gotham’s menace. After a brief exchange, Garcia announces that Gordon is GPD’s new commissioner, prompting applause from the gathered cops…
…and completely serious, unscripted clapping from the Joker himself, an ominous and unsettling gesture that injects much darkness into a proud moment. As the scene was played out, Ledger began to applaud, and Nolan had his cameramen keep rolling to capture the display. Fully in-character, and a genius piece of improvisation.
Well that’s all well and good. But as we all know the Internet is a den of lies where truths hid in the shadows like mice hiding from a cat. I was not able to find any quotes from Ledger or Nolan stating if this scene was scripted or improved. However I found the next best thing, the actual script.
The page in question is Page 100, and just to make things easier, here is the revelant section
So I guess we can call this a closed case. Just another example of an actor taking a scene and making in thier own. It helped Heath Ledger make the role his own and become one of the most popualr iterations of a classic character. And it greated a gif that the Internet has gotten many, many years of enjoyment out of. And really, in the end,isn’t that the most important thing? I wish you all a great rest of the day, and I will see you tomorrow for another Fact Of The Day.
Fact Of The Day is the daily column where RobGronkowski’sPartyBusDriver shares some random tidbit of science fiction, fantasy or horror knowledge. If there is a show or movie you would like to see done, leave a note in the comments below. You can see the full archive of past columns here.