British actor Michael Caine says Heath Ledger is fantastic as the villainous Joker in the upcoming Batman flick "The Dark Knight."

Caine reprises his "Batman Begins" role of butler Alfred in the sequel.

"I tell you the big surprise in the new 'Batman' -- Heath Ledger as the Joker," Caine told reporters in New York Tuesday, while promoting his new film, "Sleuth."

"He's fantastic. He's gone in a different direction than Jack (Nicholson) ... Jack was like a really scary old, nasty old uncle with a funny face. Heath is like the most murderous psychopath you've ever seen on the screen," Caine said.

Caine then recalled the first time he saw Ledger in his Joker regalia. It was for a scene in which the Joker bursts unexpectedly into a room via elevator.

"I was waiting for Batman's guests, but (the Joker) had taken over the elevator with -- he has seven dwarfs and... oh! wait until you see them. So, I'd never seen any of it and the elevator door opened and they came out and I forgot every bloody line. They frightened the bloody life out of me .... It's amazing and it's so different from Jack."