Heath Ledger has made his mark on Batman history, Christian Bale has revealed.
The Australian actor, who died from an accidental overdose in January 2008, was awarded a posthumous Oscar for best supporting actor for his performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight.
Heath Ledger's tour de force as Gotham's Joker, intent on anarchy
"People still talk about him. Absolutely. He was an integral part to the trilogy, he gave a phenomenal performance, his personality was a wonderful one to have around and we miss him dearly," said the Welsh-born star, who reprises his role as Batman in The Dark Knight Rises.
Director Christopher Nolan revealed that he chose not to reference the Joker in its follow-up, which opens in cinemas on July 20.
"I took the decision very early on that that would be inappropriate," he explained.
"That's just my sense of it. I felt that someone who was a friend and colleague had suffered a terrible tragedy. To try and reduce that to a plot in a fictional universe felt wrong to me - I can only do it in a way that feels appropriate to me and so I chose to not in any way reference it."
The filmmaker said he decided to choose a villain that couldn't be compared to Heath's.
"It was very important that we not try to follow what we did with the Joker, or do some pale imitation of what Heath had done. We wanted a really different villain for this. I wasn't going to set out to try and in any way better what Heath had done," he added.
The Dark Knight Rises is in UK cinemas from Friday. Read the first HuffPostUK review here at lunchtime today (Wednesday). Trailer below...