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The actor watched the movie's opening sequence before his death and "enjoyed it very much"

By David Chiu
Updated July 16, 2008 12:15 PM
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Credit: Stephen Vaughan/Warner Bros.

Heath Ledger got to see his acclaimed performance as the Joker on the big screen before his death in January, says The Dark Knight director Chris Nolan.

“He saw the IMAX prologue. We [screened] that for him in London,” Nolan told a sold-out crowd at a New York Times-sponsored discussion on Tuesday. “He enjoyed it very much.”

Nolan and star Christian Bale discussed the movie, which opens Friday (several sequences were shot in the giant-screen IMAX format), and raved about Ledger’s performance.

“What Heath did was craft an iconic performance,” said Nolan, “but one that had humanity to it. That’s a very tricky balance.”

“I think Heath grounded [the character] very much,” said Bale, “so that’s what I tried to do with Batman as well.”

The director commented about the unique style Ledger brought to the role. “When I was [writing] the script he’d talk about studying ventriloquist dummies,”said Nolan. “It didn’t make sense to me at the time.”

He continued, “Heath allowed his voice to be uncontrolled. We let that run. It’s a very complex thing he put together.”