Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Heath Ledger 1979-2008

Last night ex-sweetie pie called me to congratulate me on becoming a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, when he mentioned that Heath Ledger had died. Of course, I thought that there had to be some mistake. I had just seen the preview for the new Batman film where he gives a taste of what will surely be a great performance as The Joker.

Of all the young Hollywood actors out there, Heath Ledger seemed to have a good head on his shoulder, and a firm grasp of the business. If he was in the tabloids it was for the series of beautiful, blonde actresses that he was involved with, from Heather Graham, Naomi Watts to Michelle Williams, the mother of his daughter Matilda.

He hadn't been in and out of rehab like Brad Renfro, or been arrested numerous times for drunk driving like Lindsay Lohan, and Natasha Lyonne. He seemed like a regular guy who just happened to be an actor. The type of guy who would write his little girl's name in the cement near their Brooklyn home.

I'm hoping that this turns out to be an unfortunate and sad accident. Heath Ledger didn't seem to have a death wish like James Dean or a troubled life like Brad Renfro. He talked in interviews about how great his parents were because they didn't squash his desire to act, nor were they stage parents either. He didn't take any script that came to him. He spent two years after 10 Things I Hate About You, before he made The Patriot and A Knight's Tale. He didn't want to be pigeon-holed as a hot teen actor. And he could have easily gone the Freddie Prinze route of churning out teen comedy after teen comedy and cheesy romantic comedies. Instead he took small roles in quirky independent films, and occasionally roles in big budget dramas like The Four Feathers. One of my favorite performances was in Casanova, he went from the emotionally stunted, taciturn Wyoming cowboy, to this gloriously free, light, performance as Casanova. I thought his performance was a delight that proved that he could do almost anything as an actor.

What's even sadder is that people might be making jokes, like the guys I work with, who were saying things like Heath Ledger couldn't deal with kissing a man in a film so he killed himself. Oh, har-de-har har! That's a real laff riot, that joke. Parents just lost their son, a daughter just lost her father, and they're making bad Brokeback Mountain jokes.

Kind of puts the harsh Publisher's Weekly review that I got in a different light. At least I'm around to read it and process it (and seriously it was way harsh).

Sadly, we won't get to see more great performances from Heath, apart from his final film as the Joker in The Dark Knight.

Thanks for reading,


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