Dark Days for Stars of 'Dark Knight'

Will "Batman" film join the ranks of "Poltergeist" and other "cursed" movies?

ByABC News
August 8, 2008, 5:09 PM

Aug. 11, 2008 — -- Can a movie be cursed?

The stars of "The Dark Knight," the latest installment in the "Batman" franchise, may be wondering just that. Since the film has wrapped, violence and death have shadowed three of the film's stars.

First, there was Heath Ledger's untimely death, ruled an accidental overdose from prescription drugs, in January. Then, Brit Christian Bale was arrested last month amid allegations that he assaulted his mother and sister in London. And last week, Morgan Freeman was airlifted to a hospital after the car he was driving skidded off the road and flipped several times in Mississippi. Later in the week, it was announced that he and his wife of 24 years were getting divorced.

Curse or coincidence?

"America and the world love a good story, a good conspiracy," said film professor Wes Gehring at Ball State University in Indiana. "It's fun to play with, but I don't really think of curses that way."

The Rev. Edward Beck, a Roman Catholic priest and a host of "Faith Matters" on "ABC News Now," does not believe that films can be cursed, but he believes the cast and crew working on a film can open themselves up to evil when it is the focus of their work.

"Heath Ledger was supposedly portraying a dark character, and needing to be in that darkness had an affect on him," Beck said. "He could have been depressed and it seeped into his regular life, which could have led to an accidental suicide."

Beck hastens to add that he doesn't believe Freeman's accident or Bale's arrest has anything to do with the film.

"Dark Knight" is only the latest film in which the question of a curse has been raised.

The 1980s' "Poltergeist" trilogy became legendary for its supposed curse, known as the Curse of Haddad, after four cast members died in the six-year span between the first and the third films.

Heather O'Rourke, the young star of all three films, died of septic shock at age 12, while her on-screen sister, Dominique Dunne, was strangled to death at 22 by her jealous boyfriend. Julian Beck, who played an evil spirit in the second film, died at 60 of stomach cancer, while Will Sampson, who played a good spirit, died after an organ transplant.