Oldman Says Heath Ledger was Happy, Laughing When Off Camera

Heath Ledger as the JokerBale actually the brooding actor, Heath joking around when not Joker By Donna Lynn for Hollywood Today

HOLLYWOOD, CA (RUSHPRNEWS) 7/3/07 — BAFTA winner Gary Oldman, who plays Lt. James Gordon in the new Batman installment “The Dark Knight,” surprisingly told Hollywood Today that Christian Bale was the brooding actor on the set while the late Heath Ledger was the upbeat, laughing actor when the cameras were off.

Though much was made in the media that Ledger could not shed his psychotic, manic Joker character, and that contributed to his overdose, Oldman said it was just not the case. Heath stepped easily in and just as quickly out of character at the end of each scene.

Oldman said Bale, who plays Batman, was the gloomy thespian. “They are both so different. Christian is darker and Heath, we laughed a lot. Between takes, he very much wanted to laugh. I like to think that there was a potential of a friendship there with Heath. It was a silly accident. A cosmic shit-hammer — one of those things that just happens.”

Oldman, who often plays a villain, or at least warped anti-hero, said of Lt. Gordon, destined to become Police Commissioner according to Batman lore, “It’s a great character for me as it’s against all the other types of characters I’ve played. So it is nice to play someone who is really the moral center of the piece — someone who is strong and got great backbone and character He is virtuous, honest and incorruptible. Those qualities make him fun to play vs. some of those other wacky characters I’ve portrayed in the past.”

Chris Nolan steps back into the director’s chair for this sequel to “Batman Begins,” which finds the titular superhero coming face to face with his greatest nemesis — the dreaded Joker. Christian Bale returns to the role of Batman, Maggie Gyllenhaal takes over the role of Rachel Dawes (played by Katie Holmes in “Batman Begins”), and “Brokeback Mountain” star Heath Ledger dons the ghoulishly gleeful Joker makeup previously worn by Jack Nicholson and Cesar Romero.

Just as it begins to appear as if Batman, Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman), and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) are making headway in their tireless battle against the criminal element, a maniacal, wisecracking fiend plunges the streets of Gotham City into complete chaos.

Oldman believes the world needs heroes, perhaps even has a few. “Maybe there are ‘Batmen’ in the world. Maybe they work really covertly. You’ve got the U.N.” However, Oldman doesn’t really believe the world would tolerate a good vigilante. “The world’s too P.C. now. The world wouldn’t let you have a Batman. In the movie, Gordon goes outside the jurisdiction of the country and he gets this guy Lao and brings him back to be tried. The far left would be outraged!”

Oldman’s next movie is a horror ‘Exorcist-type movie’ where he plays a rabbi and performs an exorcism. “It’s all smoke and mirrors … that’s my job. It’s all there in the writing and I’m just interpreting it and following it.”

He said he wouldn’t mind working with director Chris Nolan again, whose next film is “The Prisoner,” based on the 60s cult TV show. “I like working with Chris because he doesn’t work 17 hours a day and I like to get home and put my kids to bed. Chris isn’t crazy” So now it’s time to let Oldman, sometimes hero, sometimes villain, always family man — get home to his kids and dinner.