An image of Jack Nicholson looking disgust as he appears to be asked to sign a photo of Heath Ledger as the Joker has gone viral. And while it’s a good joke, the image is fake.
The photo was most recently published to a movie-focused account on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, where film fans have found it quite amusing. The image has even racked up over 700,000 views at the time of this writing.
But, as you can see below, the real image features someone who was appearing to ask Nicholson to autograph a photo of Nicholson dressed as the Joker.
Nicholson played the Joker in the 1989 movie version of Batman, directed by Tim Burton. Ledger played the Joker in the 2008 Batman movie The Dark Knight, directed by Christopher Nolan.
It’s unclear what prompted Nicholson to give that kind of facial expression, though some famous people dislike autograph hounds because they are sometimes just doing it to resell the photos on the secondary market. Nicholson was reportedly in London when the real photo was taken.
The real image appears to date from 2008, where it was published to Flickr around the same time that Ledger died 0f an accidental drug overdose of prescription medications at the age of 28.
But this is far from the first time the fake version of this image has popped up online. The earliest version I could find is 13 years old and was posted to Reddit, though it’s likely even older than that.
Fake images are constantly going viral on X, often helped by changes made to the social media platform since it was purchased by billionaire Elon Musk in late 2022. One major change was charging $8 per month for a blue checkmark, which gives those users priority with the website’s algorithm. Twitter always had fake images before Musk’s changes, but they spread at a much faster rate these days.
Yes, this one is just a harmless joke. And it’s an admittedly good joke, but it’s not real. And it’s spreading very quickly right now.