Aaron Eckhart on 'Dark Knight' scenes, remembering Heath Ledger
Aaron Eckhart plays Harvey Dent/Two Face in "The Dark Knight" and has some pivotal scenes with the late Heath Ledger's Joker character. The Dish Rag talked to Eckhart about becoming Two Face, improvising with Heath Ledger and the actor's versatility and vulnerability.
TDR: How do you feel about your character in the film who becomes the villain Two Face?
AE: Yeah, I really love the character of Harvey Dent. When I read the script I was amazed at the trajectory and the transformation Harvey has, and given the fact that the Joker's in the movie, is the engine of the movie and propels the action, I was surprised how much Harvey had to do and what a light he is in the movie.
It's interesting to get to know Harvey as an altruistic leader of Gotham City trying to clean up the crime and confronting the issues that others won't confront and then, to see his transformation into Two Face, I think the audience is going to have a little more understanding and empathy for Two Face because they got to know him as Harvey Dent.
It's interesting to see the villains in this piece.
TDR: Was there a lot of secrecy over your Two Face makeup?
AE: The secrecy issues involved with a movie like this are intense, and the whole time I'm in between fear of the script getting leaked and having the responsibility and the pressure of not being the one responsible for that leak. You have to do extraordinary things. I know that people obviously had seen what Batman looked like, but Heath and I had to wear hoods over our heads and go into the public looking like friars, and you know that was interesting. And then Heath's picture, the Joker, got out, but Two Face never did. So I kind of was happy about it and wanted that to go on as long as possible. But there are rumors and innuendos, and maybe they won't believe that that's the real one.
TDR: The Joker is very persuasive in helping turn Harvey Dent into a villain. What was that pivotal scene like to play? Do you have any memories of that day's work with Heath?
AE: "That's all Heath, such a brilliant job. It was a fun day working, for me. Heath and I hadn't rehearsed that in characters, so I didn't know really what to expect that day. I knew Heath was doing some great work. I'd see him a little bit. Worked with him a little bit. But I knew through Chris that he was raising the bar and doing some exciting stuff. So I came in that day. And you know, Heath, just out of the box, just was doing his thing and I was like, OK, here we go. (laughs.) And as an actor you can't ask for anything more, because that's why we do what we do.
For Heath to give completely of himself, to open himself up, to be so vulnerable, to take such risks with the character just frees everybody in the room, from the crew to me to the director. So we really played a lot. Most of it ended up on the screen, and some of it didn't, the improvs or some of the other stuff.
I felt like Heath was in such command of his character. I could say anything to him in character and he would come right back with something funnier, better, you know?
So at the end of that day we were both very tired and felt like we did an OK job, and I remember patting Heath on the back and saying to him, "That's why we act."
Photos: Aaron Eckhart at the Independent Spirit Awards in 2008. Bottom, Eckhart with his pal Heath Ledger at the 2007 Independent Spirit Awards. Insert, Heath Ledger in Joker makeup.
WireImage and Warner Bros.