Michael Jai White on how Heath Ledger’s death affected his Dark Knight role

Arrow -- "You Have Saved This City" -- Image Number: AR722A_0191b.jpg -- Pictured: Michael Jai White as Ben Turner/Bronze Tiger (left) -- Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW -- © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Arrow -- "You Have Saved This City" -- Image Number: AR722A_0191b.jpg -- Pictured: Michael Jai White as Ben Turner/Bronze Tiger (left) -- Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW -- © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved. /

Dark Knight actor Michael Jai White believes the passing of star Heath Ledger changed the outcome for his mobster character, Gambol.

It’s hard to imagine a movie considered as near perfect and as long as The Dark Knight, at almost three hours, would be missing anything, but that’s what Spawn star Michael Jai White believes now 12 years later.

White played Gambol in the Christopher Nolan Batman film – a crimelord of Gotham’s underworld who put a bounty on The Joker, played by Heath Ledger, after he interrupted a meeting of the city’s mobsters. Joker would trick Gambol and dispatch him, or so it seemed, once he spun the first tale of how he got those scars.

Gambol’s face was cut, and White was cut elsewhere. He doesn’t appear anywhere in the rest of the movie and is forgotten which White asserts to CBR wasn’t the plan going in.

"“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.”"

Calling Gambol’s premature disappearance a “mistake,” he added that the character “was intended to go on.”

He went on to say that if the death of Gambol had been intended “you know a guy like Christopher Nolan would make that very clear as far as good storytelling.” So, clearly, he doesn’t blame the director.

Why Gambol’s arc didn’t continue is a mystery. White guesses:

"“… 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.”"

Should any of the additional material with White resurface, it would be interesting to see included in some kind of Dark Knight ultimate cut that’s even longer. Thanks to Zack Snyder’s Justice League and the new version of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice on HBO Maxa demand for extended editions of Batman movies is growing.

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The Dark Knight – looked at as the best of them – is forever marked by the untimely passing of Heath Ledger. Speculation swirls to this day the toll of playing the demented Joker was a contributor, but Michael Jai White is having none of that.

He explained in a separate interview with Collider how much the rumor displeases him and the fun Ledger was having:

"“[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?'”"

The fun Ledger had extended to his scenes with White, who also divulged they were telling jokes and playing around with the camera between takes.

White then addressed the fact that Ledger was actually working on another movie when he died. “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,” he said.

Doctor Parnassus was directed by Terry Gilliam and came out in 2009. Jude Law, Colin Farrell, and Johnny Depp were each cast to play Ledger’s character in the title fantasy world of the Imaginarium in order to finish the movie.

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Do you wish we saw more of Gambol in the already stacked Dark Knight? Give us your thoughts on that, the movie, and Heath Ledger as The Joker while you’re at it, below.