Heath Ledger, who won widespread acclaim and an Oscar nomination for his role in last year's Brokeback Mountain, will be swapping the cowboy boots and Western charm for whiteface and an evil grin. The Aussie star will be Batman's arch-nemesis, the Joker, in the latest Batman picture.
The sequel to last year's Batman Begins will be titled The Dark Knight, and is slated to go into production early next year, Warner Brothers announced.
In addition to Ledger, the film will reportedly feature the return of last year's caped crusader, Christian Bale, as superhero Bruce Wayne. Michael Caine is also scheduled to return as Alfred the butler, and Gary Oldman will be coming back as Lt. James Gordon.
Internet speculation has run rampant over the past year as to what director Christopher Nolan has in store for the follow up his first Batman, which was considered by many critics to be the best of the Batman films to date.
In addition to the Joker, there could be another casting announcement on the horizon. One Batman fan site reports that Philip Seymour Hoffman, who beat out Ledger for Best Actor last year with his performance in Capote, may be in talks to play the Penguin.