Is the Role of The Joker Really Cursed?

Is the Role of The Joker Really Cursed?

Odyssey Larsen, Beat investigator

With the release of the new Joker movie, the Clown King of Crime is in the news and not for the normal reasons. With the stir of the new actor, Joaquin Phoenix, playing the Joker has me thinking about all of the past actors who have been cast for the deranged character’s role and what effects the role mysteriously had on them. Jack Nicholson, an actor who played the Joker before Heath Ledger, spoke on Ledger’s death by simply stating “Well, I warned him.” This one statement sent the internet into a frenzy.  That is where this theory has stemmed from; maybe the role of The Joker is cursed.

One of the most well known actors to ever play The Joker was Jack Nicholson; best known for his role in the movie adaptation of the Stephen King novel The Shining it is apparent that Nicholson likes to take on roles of somewhat tortured characters. Though he has never come out and directly said that the role of Joker haunts his life outside of the movie, his chilling statement when speaking about Heath Ledger’s death turned more than a few heads.

Likely, the most widely known version of the Joker was from 2008’s The Dark Knight played by the late Heath Ledger. Even though his death was ruled an accident, some believe that it was simply the Joker showing everyone that he is more than just a fictional character. After his death, the show Too Young To Die covered Ledger’s time as the Joker (seeing as it was his final role) and his death. While prepping for the role, Ledger locked himself in a London hotel room for an entire month trying to perfect the role. Ledger’s father says his son being that dedicated to a role was very common, but never to the extent that he went to. Even though in an interview shortly before his death Ledger said that the role of Joker was the most fun he had ever had in his acting career, many still believe that the Joker is what killed him.

While locked up in the hotel room, Ledger kept what he called his Joker Journal where he kept track of how the preparation for the role took its toll on him. In the journal, he writes about how he started only getting two hours of sleep at night. This insomniac behavior led to a prescription of sleeping pills. That was the exact prescription that led to his tragic death. Shortly before he died, in the Joker Journal, a silver marker scrawled across the final page were simply the words “BYE, BYE”. This chilling entry still haunts his father.

Another actor who was deeply affected by the role of the Joker was Jared Leto from Suicide Squad. During the filming of the movie, even though his scene was very brief, Leto spoke of the effects of the role saying some very chilling things.  He says that the role of the Joker really got to him. He would spend most of the time on set in character even when he wasn’t filming. He would spend the majority of his time alone in his dressing room. During filming, Leto sent a rat to his co-star, Margot Robbie, and a dead pig to the rest of the cast. After the concluding scene, any lasting effects of the role have not been released except for during the filming, but I’d say that Leto was mentally disturbed.

Even outside of the actors who play the Joker, people feel the effects of this demented character. We’ve all seen the famous meme of the shooter from the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. On July 20, 2012, in Aurora, CO, James Holmes threw a canister filled with an unknown gas, thought to be tear gas, into one of the theaters showing the film before open firing into the crowd. This tragic event claimed the lives of 14 people and wounded up to 50. When apprehended, all Holmes told the Colorado police was, “I am the Joker.” This is a prime example of how the Joker is wreaking havoc on the lives of real, everyday people. So if you were to ask me if the role of the Joker is cursed, I say yes, beyond a reasonable doubt.