An image of Jack Nicholson looking disgusted 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 posted on a movie-focused account on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, where movie buffs found it quite amusing. The image has even been collected 700,000 views at the time of this writing.
But, as you can see below, the actual image shows someone who appeared to be asking Nicholson to autograph a photo of Nicholson dressed as the Joker.
Nicholson played the Joker in the 1989 film version Batman, directed by Tim Burton. Ledger played the Joker in the 2008 Batman film The dark Knightdirected by Christopher Nolan.
It’s unclear what prompted Nicholson to give this type of facial expression, although some celebrities dislike autographed hounds because they sometimes do it just to resell the photos on the secondary market. Nicholson was reportedly in London when the actual photo was taken.
The actual image appears to date back to 2008, where it was posted on Flickr around the same time Ledger died of an accidental prescription drug overdose at age 28.
But it’s far from the first time a fake version of this image has surfaced online. The oldest version I could find is 13 years old and it was posted on Redditalthough it is probably even older than that.
Fake images are constantly going viral on X, often aided by changes made to the social media platform since it was purchased by billionaire Elon Musk in late 2022. One major change was the $8 per month charge for a blue checkmark, the which gives these users priority with the website’s algorithm. Twitter has always had fake images before Musk’s changes, but these days they spread at a much faster rate.
Yes, this is just a harmless joke. And it’s admittedly a good joke, but it’s not real. And it’s spreading really fast right now.