As a huge fan of The Dark Knight (and who isn’t?), easily my favorite part of the movie was Heath Ledger‘s portrayal of The Joker. It was an unexpected casting choice, an inspired performance, and it made the tragedy of his loss that much more intense, to lose such a talent. Part of what was so interesting about the character was that he gave it dimensions that seemed to come out of nowhere; the hunched-over posture and fidgeting, the gravely voice with its strange diction and upward inflection. After the movie was released, the press got to do interviews with Christian Bale and Aaron Eckhart and the rest of the cast, asking questions about where they got the motivations for their characters, but for obvious reasons, no one could do that with Heath Ledger. His performance had to stand on its own — something it was clearly able to do, as he posthumously won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
But there’s a new video making the rounds of the internet that resembles Heath’s performance closely enough that it has people wondering if it was part of his inspiration for the character. The video is from a 1979 Australian interview of Tom Waits, the singer-songwriter, and it’s pretty uncanny. Tom Waits is no sociopath, but he’s definitely a certified weirdo, and it really makes you wonder if maybe Heath saw this clip. It also makes you feel for the host, because Tom is way more concerned with smoking ten thousand cigarettes than providing a clean soundbite.
We’ll never know if Heath used this interview or Tom Waits himself as part of his inspiration, but it’s worth watching just to get your mind blown. But spoiler alert: pencil trick not included.