Dark Knight actor Michael Jai White thinks his character Gambol’s fate was left up in the air because of Heath Ledger’s untimely death after filming.
The Dark Knight actor Michael Jai White thinks his character Gambol’s fate was left a mystery because of Heath Ledger’s untimely death. White played crime lord Gambol in the film, whose interactions with Joker early on illustrate the villain’s psychotic tendencies. Gambol’s character presumably dies early in the film, with the Joker slicing up his face before discarding his body.
The kill was integral to the Joker’s development in The Dark Knight; after Gambol’s death, Joker becomes his gang’s leader. Using his new found crime connections, Joker infiltrates Gotham’s criminal underworld and utilizes the tools at his disposal to wreak havoc on Gotham. Ledger’s work is widely seen as one of the greatest comic book movie performances of all time. The role earned him a posthumous Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
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White says Ledger’s death may have been one of the reasons why Gambol’s full story was never told. White has previously said Gambol was supposed to survive his encounter with the Joker. Speaking to CBR recently, White speculated Ledger’s death may have led to his limited time onscreen, but said he has no ill feelings about the decision. It remains unclear what director Christopher Nolan’s plans were for Gambol beyond this scene, as White did not say:
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.
Gambol’s death scene has long been a confusing aspect of what is otherwise a very cohesive film. The scene where Joker seemingly kills him trails off in the final cut, with no obvious resolution. It would make sense for Nolan to have other plans for Gambol, but what those were remains unclear. He could have become an ally to Joker, helping him in his takeover of Gotham. There’s also a possibility he could’ve become a formidable opponent, spurned by the violent act committed against him. Any of these options would have been interesting additions to The Dark Knight and Gambol’s story.
Unfortunately, a lot of things were cut short because of Ledger’s death. The actor had a long career ahead of him, and his role as Joker proved he was a force to be reckoned with. His open-ended final scene in The Dark Knight left many wondering if Nolan had plans to continue Joker’s story in the conclusion to his trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises. Ledger’s performance in The Dark Knight will go down in history and, if White is correct, the sacrificing of Gambol’s storyline is a small price to pay for more time spent with Ledger’s Joker.
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