Law enforcement sources have revealed new information surrounding the tragic passing of actor Heath Ledger, whose iconic portrayal of the notorious Joker villain was awarded a posthumous Oscar. Sources told Page Six Monday that investigators responded to Ledger's Manhattan apartment following his fatal 2008 overdose to find a "shrine" dedicated to the Dark Knight character.
"[Ledger] was studying up on the origins of clowns and all of the previous Jokers like Jack Nicholson's character and Cesar Romero's, who was the first Joker on TV," a source told Page Six. "He was trying to make his role different from the roles of the other actors. He was even studying how to make his voice different from theirs."
Ledger had also reportedly "immersed himself" in a collection of Batman comics, clown literature, clown statues, and audio recordings of the actor testing out his Joker voice in "high and low octaves." The Broome St. apartment, the source added, was "immaculately" neat. "He was a perfectionist who clearly had a lot of respect for the character," the source said. "All of that stuff was very tidy."
Ledger, whose 2008 death was ultimately ruled an accidental overdose, continues to be praised for his Dark Knight performance even years after the film's critical and commercial success. Jared Leto, who put his own spin on the Joker for David Ayer's divisive Suicide Squad earlier this year, told Rolling Stone that Ledger's performance easily ranks as one of the all-time greats. "Heath did an impeccable, perfect performance as the Joker," Leto said in July. "It's one of the best performances ever in cinema."