Maggie Gyllenhaal Recalls Thinking Heath Ledger Was ‘on a Whole Other Level’ While Filming ‘The Dark Knight’

In awe of his talent. Maggie Gyllenhaal recalled how much she admired the late Heath Ledger when the two worked together on The Dark Knight.

Gyllenhaal and Ledger starred as Bruce Wayne’s (Christian Bale) love interest, Rachel Dawes, and The Joker, respectively, in the critically acclaimed Batman film, which was released six months after the actor’s sudden death in January 2008 at age 28 from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs.

“I remember coming to work and seeing him — that scene where The Joker throws me off a roof — and seeing him come in and start to do what he was doing, you know, which was the first time I saw it,” the 40-year-old actress recalled during her Wednesday, October 10, appearance on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen. “And I thought — and I still think about this sometimes — it’s so hard to be good in a huge movie like that, that’s not about the acting, really. It’s so much easier to be good in, like, a little tiny movie where, you know, it’s all about you.”

Maggie Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger
Maggie Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger Bravo/Getty Images

Gyllenhaal went on to further compliment the actor, who was posthumously awarded an Oscar for his portrayal of the villain: “To be amazing like the way Heath was in a movie that’s got explosions and, like, huge stunt scenes and big sets is like a whole other thing, and I don’t know if anyone’s ever, ever done that as well as he did in The Dark Knight.”

“It felt like that on set too,” she added. “You were like, ‘Whoa. Oh, OK. You’re on a whole other level.’”

Gyllenhaal’s brother, Jake Gyllenhaal, counted his Brokeback Mountain costar as a longtime friend. “I miss him as a human being and I miss working with him, and what an unfortunate thing it is that we won’t be able to see the beauty of his expression,” the Life actor, 37, told NPR’s Terry Gross in July 2015.

Jake, who is also the godfather of Ledger’s 12-year-old daughter Matilda with ex-girlfriend Michelle Williams, continued: “He was incredibly special and that doesn’t even come close to encapsulating who he is, who he was.”

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