When Heath Ledger passed away last year, pundits pronounced his role at the Joker in "The Dark Knight" his last hurrah. Like Ted Williams, Ledger had hit a home run in his last at-bat, even earning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor posthumously.
"This is a career-making performance if ever there was one," declared Claudia Puig, movie critic for USA Today. "Too bad it was a career-ending one as well."
But alas, the man who portrayed the Joker has one final ace up his sleeve, one more chance for fans to enjoy his no-holds-barred, all-in acting style. Sony Pictures Classics will release fantasy film "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus" on Christmas Day, with Ledger as the lead role.
"Parnassus" follows the 1,000-year-old leader of a travelling theatre troupe (Christopher Plummer) who, having made a deal with the Devil (Tom Waits), takes audience members through a magical mirror to explore their imaginations. At some point, the Devil comes to collect on the deal, and wants the doctor's daughter as his compensation (Lily Cole). But a mysterious outsider named Tony (Ledger), who recently joined the troupe, vows he can savethe daughter's soul.
The film, directed by Terry Gilliam, looks like a visual feast: Colors and monsters and magic flying in and off the screen like hurricanes of eye candy. And Ledger looks like he gives a Joker-eseque performance: Lively, mysterious and utterly captivating.
Of course, Ledger passed during filming, so he doesn't get to see the part all the way through. Actors Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell agreed to finish the film as a tribute to their late colleague. But don't be surprised if Ledger receives another posthumous Oscar nom, even for an unfinished role: He looks as lively and luminous as ever. Check out the trailer below: