Christian Bale has paid tribute to the late Heath Ledger, his co-star in the upcoming Batman sequel The Dark Knight.

Ledger stepped into Jack Nicholson's shoes to play The Joker in the Christopher Nolan film and early publicity stills of his portrayal of the character aroused huge excitement among fans of the Caped Crusader.

However, following Ledger's tragic death in January, the future of the film was momentarily thrown into doubt, after the Perth-born star was found dead in his New York apartment following an accidental overdose of prescription medication.

But the Warner Bros team and Nolan have opted to go ahead with the release and now Bale, who plays Bruce Wayne for the second time after 2005's Batman Begins, has said Ledger did "one hell of a job" in portraying the iconic DC Comics villain.

"I'm absolutely fine talking about Heath, although I don't like trivialising the tragedy in conjunction with an interview to do with the movie, which is clearly far less important," he told Entertainment Weekly.

"But Heath was a joy. He really was like that, because he was a very unique man. I enjoyed watching him work, working with him - you know, we had a lot of the old gang from the first one together, and then there were new members, Heath obviously included."

He added: "What was so great to see with Heath is just how seriously he took it. And he did one hell of a job."

The Dark Knight is released on July 8th.

19/03/2008 10:56:06