I am weary of, though not entirely unamused by, the preferred psychoanalytic question about my posthumously-released role as the Joker in The Dark Knight. Fans gathered at my cinematic altar continue to ask: “Did playing that deranged criminal, and other cutting roles, drive you too far?”
No, I explain, it was rather the opposite: my deteriorating condition drove the roles. I must therefore answer the most elementary question: what was the problem? In my brain there lurked a chemical imbalance rendering me chronically tense and sleepless and depressed. Medications offered the sole possibility of even temporary relief. To those unschooled in, and too often righteous about, such difficulties, be assured that biologically-induced pain cannot be managed either by baying at the heavens or grinding your teeth.
Even big skies over beautiful mountains didn’t soothe me while playing tormented homosexual Ennis Del Mar living in the closet on Brokeback Mountain. I wanted to shut down after shooting every day, but my mind said no. Two movies later, in Candy, I was pale and subdued as a junky willing to shove his girlfriend onto the streets to pay for his heroin. I wouldn’t have impaled a lady, only myself.
As the joker I didn’t worry about looking like a leading man; I buried myself under a painted white face, black eyes, and brown teeth exposed by a horrific red mouth made massive by self-inflicted slices. A man like this enjoys shooting pistols, bazookas, and machine guns, and laughing maniacally as he insults, lectures, threatens, and, naturally, jokes. He’s an amusing fellow, even while Batman abuses him in jail.
I created this character because I felt like him. The Joker should have had several psychiatrists, six prescription medications, and my fate. I deserved one good doctor, a saving medication or two, and many more years.