Heath Ledger’s Inspiration For The Joker Was Probably Tom Waits

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Entertainment Editor
07.30.12 20 Comments

Few performances are as memorable as Heath Ledger’s terrifying, smirking inevitability as The Joker in The Dark Knight, a role which earned him a posthumous Oscar. Now Kotaku and Newsarama have tipped us to a 1979 interview of Tom Waits which is eerily similar to The Joker’s voice, inflections, and mannerisms. Thinking Heath Ledger’s inspiration for The Joker may have been Tom Waits isn’t as far-fetched as it seems. The two worked together in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, a movie which took so long to develop that it’s conceivable the two could have met at some point before The Dark Knight filmed.

A then 29-years-old Tom Waits can be seen shambling, smirking, and being captivatingly weird in a 1979 Australian talk show hosted by Don Lane in the video below. Skip to 1:30 to see the start of the interview. I kept waiting for Waits to offer a magic trick demonstration to host Don Lane. I’ll just have to settle for the magic of watching Cookie Monster sing Waits’ “God’s Away On Business” instead.

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When not writing for Uproxx, Caleb likes to volunteer at the legless cat shelter and photoshop the Babadook into all of his family photos. He once resolved the question “To be or not to be?” through the clever use of General Semantics. Your mom thinks you could be more like him if you only applied yourself.

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