1. Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight (2008)
Looking back, this one just makes people feel silly to remember. Once upon a time, Heath Ledger was known as a talented and handsome young actor who was most at home in romantic dramas and comedies. His abilities as a dramatic actor were widely praised, his smoldering good looks contributed to a reputation as a leading man, and his kindhearted demeanor meant that he wasn’t considered believable in a villainous role.
Ledger’s casting as the Joker for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight was met with profound confusion. Though Heath Ledger’s acting abilities had been proved time and again, the backlash to his casting focused on the fact that he was too good-looking and “normal” to convincingly portray the iconic villain. The train of thought was that the Joker should be a violent and psychopathic eccentric, and that Ledger simply didn’t fit the bill.
What followed was the performance of a lifetime, and it redefined the Joker forever. Ledger’s Joker combined unnerving comedy with out-and-out terror, all wrapped up in a strangely charismatic performance that has gone down in history as one of the greatest of all time. Ledger even won a posthumous Oscar for the role, proving that although his casting seemed a strange choice to begin with, he was the perfect man for the job.
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