Heath Ledger Had Planned To Return As The Joker After 'The Dark Knight'

10 years later, Heath Ledger's tragic passing still stings. The 28-year-old actor was just at the beginning of a meteoric rise to stardom, collecting an Oscar nomination for his work in 2005's profoundly affecting Brokeback Mountain and giving a career-defining performance as the Joker in 2008's The Dark Knight, for which he would earn a posthumous Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

The Joker would become the performance he was most remembered for and his last starring role (aside from a posthumous appearance in The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus). But the character's fate at the end of The Dark Knight always had viewers wondering if there was an intent to bring the Joker back before Ledger's untimely death. Now, a decade later, Ledger's sister reveals that there was.

In an interview last year with the Austrialian news outlet, news.com.au (the story, which is new to us, is making the rounds now), Ledger's sister Kate Ledger rejected the theories that sprung up around the actor's death that he was depressed or suffering from his art. "I spoke to him the night before (he died) and we were laughing and joking," she said before revealing that Ledger even had solid career plans for the future:

"He was so proud of what he had done in Batman. And I know he had plans for another Batman. He loved working with Chris Nolan and Christian Bale and Gary Oldman. He just had the best time ever doing that film. When he came home at Christmas he couldn't wait to tell us all about it and he was doing the voice and laughing, showing me all the rushes. We had a great time."

Kate Ledger was promoting I Am Heath Ledger at the time, a haunting Spike documentary where Ledger's friends and family recall the late actor's legacy, interspersed with footage shot by Heath Ledger himself.

As you probably remember, the Joker is dangling from the top of a building at the end of The Dark Knight, left by Batman to be arrested by the police. While the script for The Dark Knight Rises had not been written yet, it was suggested that his survival meant the character could return — he was Batman's biggest foe, after all. The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan shot down suggestions to recast the Joker (a good decision, considering the polarizing reception of Jared Leto's Joker in Suicide Squad) and ultimately decided to make no mention of the Joker in The Dark Knight Rises out of respect for Ledger.

It's only in the novelization of The Dark Knight Rises that we see the resolution for Ledger's Joker, either appearing to be the lone inmate of Arkham Asylum or having escaped long ago. It's an appropriately ambiguous send-off for a pop culture icon and a talented actor who was gone too soon.