Despite the current dominance of the MCU, Christopher Nolan’s 2008 superhero movie The Dark Knight is still considered the gold standard for that particular genre of films. Michael Jai White was a part of The Dark Knight in the role of the crime lord Gambol, who gets his face carved up by Heath Ledger’s terrifying Joker. It was never made clear whether Gambol survived that encounter. In an interview with CBR, White revealed that Ledger’s untimely demise might have got in the way of bringing Gambol’s arc to a satisfying conclusion.
“The intention was that’s all that was supposed to happen: [Gambol] had his face cut. That’s why in a movie that is that perfect, we’re now sitting here wondering what the hell happened to it. That shows you that was a bit of a mistake because that character was intended to go on. If the death of the character was intended, you know a guy like Christopher Nolan would make that very clear as far as good storytelling. My guess is that because of the unfortunate fate of Heath Ledger that I think maybe there were some things altered to preserve most of his performance and I think maybe the bookend of where Gambol was supposed to go kind of went to the cutting room floor.”
It seems there was more to the scene between Gambol and Joker than what audiences got to see. But on his part, White appears to hold no ill will towards Ledger or Nolan for his role getting shortened. In fact, in the past, Michael Jai White has spoken with glowing praise regarding Ledger’s behavior on set while making The Dark Knight.
“Heath Ledger was having a ball. We were giving him a wide berth and not bothering him, but he was the one initiating conversations and we were doing magic tricks and all kinds of silly things. We would hold up the camera with us just trading jokes, and then when we were done, we would get to shooting. I don’t think I’ve ever been on a more relaxed stage.”
The death of Heath Ledger sparked a great deal of controversy regarding The Dark Knight, with many believing the late actor had gotten too involved in becoming the Joker, which had caused him to become depressed and take his own life. White absolutely rubbishes those rumors, confirming that Ledger saw the role of the Joker as something to have fun with rather than darkly obsess over.
“[That rumor] drives me up a wall. Because people want to write the story that this dark character consumed him. That’s people’s imagination. No, not at all. This dude had fun. You can see his playful character because of that scene when he comes out of the examination room and he does the hand sanitizer…you know he’s playing. You know he just did that for a goof. He’s having a ball. He’s modulating his voice. He is even asking us ‘what did you think?’ …And the truth of the matter is he passed away when he was doing The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, it wasn’t even this movie. You know how much longer that was?”