Michael Jai White reveals that his character Gambol in The Dark Knight originally survived his assault by the Joker, but this was altered in post-production. The impact Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy had on comic book movies can’t be understated, and The Dark Knight is considered – on the whole – to be the best of the series. It featured great performances, taut storytelling, and excellent set pieces such as the opening bank heist.
The Dark Knight also introduced Heath Ledger’s unforgettable take on the Joker. Fans weren’t keen on the actor’s casting when it was first announced, though, preferring a more seasoned performer like alleged first choice Sean Penn. Ledger’s charismatic, terrifying performance has since become iconic, and the actor was honored with a posthumous Academy Award for his work in the film.
Michael Jai White played gangster Gambol in The Dark Knight, who features in one of the movie’s most tense scenes in which the Joker sticks a knife in his mouth and recounts one version of how he got his signature scars. The scene ends with Gambol’s apparent death, but the actor has revealed to THR that Gambol originally survived the attack and was supposed to appear in other scenes:
"I think that people can tell by the strange cut that I never shot a death scene. The character wasn't supposed to be gone. That is something that happened in editing later. You don't see mistakes in a movie of that magnitude. When you see something that is somewhat a mistake or is not clarified, there is something behind that."
Gambol would have been left scarred with a Glasgow Smile like the Joker, and White also revealed the character could have potentially reappeared in a future movie, but the death of Heath Ledger seems to have changed those plans.
"It was the kind of thing where they had deeper intentions for Gambol; it was a character who was written for future use, I think. There were other plans to do stuff with that character and some things that were cut out. I think it's because of unfortunately losing Heath Ledger."
The actor says he ultimately understood the decision but was as surprised as anyone to see Gambol’s abrupt demise when he saw The Dark Knight. White doesn’t provide any further details on how the character’s survival would have impacted the rest of the story, but given Nolan’s noted aversion to releasing deleted scenes from his work, these sequences are unlikely to resurface anytime soon. Furthermore, The Dark Knight will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this week, and the movie’s critical and commercial success helped prove comic book movies could be taken seriously, and tackle more mature themes.