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September Diary: From the Desk of John Caglione, Jr.

The Dark Knight.


It was an early morning in January 2007, my family and I were at the ABQ airport. My wife and daughters were catching their flight back home to New York. I was booked on a separate flight headed to L.A, where we were to finish filming “ 3:10 To Yuma “ with Russell Crowe as his personal makeup artist. I always try to have my family come visit at some point whenever it's time to go away when filming on distant location. While shooting 3:10 in the countryside of Santa Fe, it got really cold and snowy , so much snow in fact that it caused continuity and matching issues for filming to continue there. The company was forced to then travel to L.A’s Bronson Canyon where we would continue filming and wrap. While at the airport my phone rings and it’s Executive Producer Emma Thomas calling!  Emma also happens to be the wife of Director Christopher Nolan.  A creative power couple if there ever was one. Back in 2002, I was Al Pacino’s personal makeup artist on the film “Insomnia “ and that’s where I met Emma and Christopher Nolan. They were so cool and nice to work under and always so kind. It sure was great to be with Al again as we had just finished the film “ People I Know “ shot in NYC. There’s a really wonderful story that must be told in a future Diary about Al’s generosity utilizing some legal maneuvering making it possible to bring me along with him to work in Canada on “Insomnia”. I owe much to this GREAT and charitable Man !! Back with Emma Thomas on the phone, "Hi John just checking your availability as Chris and I are getting ready to do “The Dark Knight”. We're in L.A. right now, will you be in L.A anytime soon?"  With as much controlled excitement as possible I replied, I’m about to be available !! Right now I’m actually in the Albuquerque airport hopping a flight to L.A.! Emma, Ok that’s great let me set up a meet with everyone ..the “Dark Knight" wheels were now in motion. The first appointment was to meet with producer Jordan Goldberg at Warner Brothers Studio Burbank to read this Top Secret script in an office there. You can imagine how pumped I was before reading the script but afterward, I was praying I’d get the chance of a lifetime to be on this Epic! After the script read the next meeting was with Chris, Emma, Heath Ledger and Costume Designer Lindy Hemming at Heath’s preliminary Wardrobe fitting at Warners. It was really great to see Chris and Emma again and be introduced to Heath and Lindy who were real busy putting his costume looks together for “ The Joker “. These first meetings with the Creators, director, actor, producer and designers along with all the sketches and Concept artwork are always of critical importance. It’s your job to understand both visually and emotionally the world and characters presented well beyond what’s available in the script. Heath and Chris were so nice and relaxed which helps in expressing their take on what they wanted to achieve makeup wise for this Joker. I have to say that starting from this first meeting then working with Heath over the next 6 months or so of tests and filming in Chicago and London, there was never one moment of “behind the scenes” drama of any kind. I couldn’t wait to get to do Heath’s makeup and be on set everyday with him, his kindness and constant positive energy was palatable. Not to mention getting the opportunity to see with your naked eyes one brilliant take, one after another with variations. It was like seeing a great musician playing his instrument and songs but the music or song is never played exactly the same way twice. These are the GREAT Artists. It’s always fresh and gives you goosebumps even if the musician has played the same song 1000 times! And that’s the way it went as Heath’s makeup man, goose bumps and great vibes being with him. It makes me kind of sad writing and sharing some about my time with Heath. But I personally believe that people don’t die, they just change, we cant see them but they are around. Speaking to this concept it just hit me that part of Heath’s email address was “illberunningaround".  I truly believe he still is. Check out Einstein’s take on matter, vibration and energy, in the end believing that “matter is energy” etc... interesting stuff. Also a good book on these concepts is “Power vs. Force" by Dr. David Hawkins. I’ll wrap up this Diary by saying that in my career a few times, over 40 years now, the Heaven’s opened up for whatever reason and presented some very special people and work that changes you personally, your life and career profoundly. Working with Christopher Nolan, Heath Ledger and Emma Thomas etc..on "The Dark Knight" is to me an example of another wonderful Cosmic gift I was very lucky to receive. The film as you all know with its labyrinth of storytelling, epic scope, and original IMAX format has become a classic and Heath’s brilliant performance is of film legend. “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle". - Albert Einstein Peace, Johnny.



HEATH LEDGER.



Heath Quick Sketch #1 after

First Meeting. 



Heath Quick Sketch #1 after

First Meeting. 



Heath Quick Sketch #1 after

First Meeting. 



Heath First On-Camera Makeup Test in London. 

Photo Credit: John Caglione, Jr.



John making up Heath Ledger on the film set of "The Dark Knight"

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© 2020 by JOHN CAGLIONE, JR. 

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