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Sir Michael leads stars paying tribute to Heath at 'Dark Knight' premiere

July 14, 2008
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Although it was packed with A-list guests, there was only ever going to be one star at the New York screening of latest Batman flick The Dark Knight - the late Australian star Heath Ledger. Celebs including Sir Michael Caine, Christian Bale and Maggie Gyllenhaal all paid tribute to the actor, saying his memorable performance as evil villain The Joker "steals the movie".

"It's the best performance of a villain I have seen," enthused Michael Caine, who reprises his role as faithful butler Alfred Pennyworth in the latest Batman installment.

Pausing on the carpet - black as a mark of respect for Heath - the veteran gave his opinion on the Academy Award speculation being generated by Heath's haunting performance. "My feeling is that he will get a nomination," he revealed. "I would be very surprised if he didn't get the Oscar. He has my vote anyway."

Hunky Christian, who returns to his role as Bruce Wayne and alter ego Batman, was also full of praise for the young Australian's portrayal of the Joker. "He steals the movie and I'm quite happy to say that," he conceded. "He's a hell of a talent and created a joker that's very iconic and will become a classic portrayal of the ages."

"He was a wonderful character, great company. I expected to be friends with him for many years," he added. "It is tragic he is not here. But I'm here to see his talents and celebrate them, as I hope everybody will."

Heath, to whom the new movie is dedicated, lost his life in January aged 28 to an accidental overdose of prescription drugs.

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Photo: ©
Speaking at the New York screening, Michael, Christian and Maggie all agree that Heath steals the movie Photo: © Getty Images
Photo: ©
Morgan Freeman, who reprises his role as Lucius Fox in The Dark Knight, was accompanied to the premiere by his granddaughter Alexis Photo: © Getty Images

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