'Dark Knight Rises': The Joker Won't Appear In Batman Finale

"The Dark Knight Rises" takes place eight years after the events of "The Dark Knight," and that time lapse allowed Christopher Nolan to deal with one very delicate situation: The death of Heath Ledger, who played The Joker in the previous film.

"We're not addressing The Joker at all," Nolan told Empire Magazine in a new cover story (via The Playlist). "That is something I felt very strongly about in terms of my relationship with Heath and the experience I went through with him on 'The Dark Knight.' I didn't want to in any way try and account for a real-life tragedy. That seemed inappropriate to me."

Ledger's untimely death still hangs over many "Dark Knight" participants. At the MTV Movie Awards on Sunday night, Christian Bale nearly broke down on stage after watching clips of the late actor's performance in "The Dark Knight."

"Man, great to remember Heath in that moment," Bale said, holding back tears. "Wonderful to see Heath Ledger there."

Ledger died on Jan. 22, 2008 after an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. He later won a posthumous Academy Award for his efforts on "The Dark Knight."

In the Empire interview, Nolan noted that while the film is the climax of his Batman trilogy, it features entirely new adversaries for the Caped Crusader to face down: Bane (played by Tom Hardy) and Catwoman (played by Anne Hathaway).

Starring Bale, Hardy, Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Marion Cotillard, "The Dark Knight Rises" swoops into theaters on July 20. For more on the Empire cover story, head over to Indiewire.com.

[Empire via Indiewire/ThePlaylist]

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