The reason behind Heath Ledger’s signature Joker move is more basic than you might think

No matter why it was created, it certainly added to the character.

At this point, we as the audience knew about the different acting tricks and methods to get into the role. As nearly every song hits theaters, the cast is quick to explain in detail what went into their characters, and how they brought the magic of cinema to life. Not only is knowledge highly appreciated by the actors, but also by very curious viewers.

However, not everyone is in a hurry to reveal all their secrets. Especially the one that wasn’t supposed to be some big way acting thing, but ended up ending up due to an accident.


Perhaps, one of the most interesting (and absolutely memorable for fans) is Heath Ledger’s habit of licking his lips like the Joker.

Of course, with or without lip licking, Ledger’s portrayal of the villain was so good that it sent chills down viewers’ spines on multiple occasions throughout the film. However, something about him drawing attention to his bright red clown mouth over and over added a whole other level of creepiness.

Well, it turns out that this was never written into the script. But it wasn’t an improvisation fueled by the actor’s own creative vision.

Basically, the reason Heath Ledger licked his lips all the time was pretty practical: He just had to keep his makeup on.

Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight asked the Joker to have his signature facial scars, and for this, the make-up team had to use prosthetics on the real Heath Ledger’s face. While it certainly enhanced the look, it was often too loose when it did.

To keep it in place and not reshoot everything, the actor had to lick his lips and push the prosthesis back into place with his tongue.

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It might not be the right look for any other role, but for a geeky clown, no cramp could be too much. Plus, thanks to Heath Ledger’s talent, it looked so natural in the movie that you might forget that neither Jared Leto nor Joaquin Phoenix’s Jokers are actually doing the same thing.

If you’re feeling nostalgic and want to revisit your favorite Joker by rewatching The Dark Knight, you can stream the movie on Hulu, MAX, and Amazon Prime Video.

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