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Stuntman was knocked out three times and 'could have died' while filming The Dark Knight's pencil scene

Katherine Sidnell

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Stuntman was knocked out three times and 'could have died' while filming The Dark Knight's pencil scene

Featured Image Credit: Warner Brothers

The stuntman behind the iconic pencil scene in The Dark Knight has revealed that he ‘could have died' filming the famous stunt.

Charles Jarman endured a brutal two-day shoot with Heather Ledger, during which he was knocked out three times.

Despite making cinema history in the classic Christopher Nolan film, Jarman wasn’t the only one suffering while making the movie.

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Eager to make the film with limited computer-generated effects, Nolan had to capture The Dark Knight's most insane stunts for real.

This included flipping a semi-truck in the heart of Chicago’s banking district, which was doubling for Gotham, as part of a car chase.

Whilst most directors would have resorted to CGI, Nolan and the production team devised a clever plan to get the stunt off the ground (literally).

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Using a simple piston with a TNT charge under the truck’s trailer, the crew where able to make it appear as if the vehicle was flipping as the explosives launched it into the air.

Though the set-up was straightforward, everyone was nervous due to the millions of dollars’ worth of damage the truck could do to the local area.

Even the man behind the stunt, coordinator Paul Jennings, had to hold his breath.

He admitted to IGN: “If it gets halfway up and falls to the side – we were in the middle of the Chicago banking district – it would’ve gone through a bank’s window.”

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Thankfully, the stunt went off without a hitch – unlike the pencil scene.

The epic truck flip was filmed in Chicago's banking district. Credit: Warner Brothers
The epic truck flip was filmed in Chicago's banking district. Credit: Warner Brothers

In an interview with MovieWeb, stuntman Charles Jarman revealed that director Christopher Nolan had approached him saying that they needed ‘a couple of shots’.

“I remember Christopher Nolan saying to me, 'Look, we’re going to do a couple of shots where you need to be able to take that pencil away,'” said the stunt actor, as he recalled the intense scene alongside Heath Ledger as The Joker.

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The trick relied on Jarman being able to take away the pencil before his head hit the table, which was no mean feat.

“If, for some reason, I didn’t get my hand in time, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Well, possibly through a Ouija board,” he joked, explaining how he had done multiple rehearsals at half speed – swiping the pencil out of his way on cue so he could perform.

Though Jarman pulled off the stunt, the precise bit of camera trickery took over 22 takes over two gruelling days – even resulting in him being knocked out three times due to the force with which he hit the table.

Even Ledger, a known method actor, was impressed and panicked when he saw Jarman get knocked out, breaking character to ask if he was OK.

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Them’s the knocks – we guess.

Topics: Film & TV, Batman, Joker, DC Comics, Film and TV, Celebrity, Christopher Nolan

Katherine Sidnell
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