Heath Ledger Not Appearing in The Dark Knight Rises

In addition to the stories about how The Dark Knight Rises will be Christopher Nolan’s last Batman film (seriously, how many times does Nolan need to say this before it becomes non-news?), a rumor is also making the rounds that Nolan will be using unused footage of Heath Ledger’s Joker in the new film. Nolan debunked that rumor while talking to Thompson on Hollywood, confirmed that Tom Hardy has a role and gave a bit of an update:

Nolan, bearded and affable, explained that he’s scrambling to finish the script for The Dark Knight Rises, his third Batman movie, which he’s writing in collaboration with his brother Jonathan, mostly from his oceanfront abode in the Paradise Cove trailer park in Malibu..The script is due in January for a July release. But he wouldn’t say what the story’s about or who the villain is, other than to confirm that Inception’s Tom Hardy will play “a key role, not saying good or bad,” and to shoot down reports that he’ll resurrect The Joker by including unused footage of Heath Ledger’s performance in the previous chapter.  “That’s all wrong,” said the writer-director, who’s also producing the next Superman movie, for Zack Snyder to direct.

Warner Bros. Pictures has scheduled a July 20, 2012 release for The Dark Knight Rises.