RIP Heath Ledger

Well, you’d either have to have been hiding under a rock or have had a very oppressive work-schedule to not know by now that actor Heath Ledger died in New York.

I first saw Ledger in the teen-comedy “10 Things I Hate About You”–which was a lot better than it should have been, btw. He was kind of the saving-grace of that movie, along with Julia Styles, pre-dance-movies. (Pity that “10 Things” provided HER edgiest role, by far…but I digress…) I can’t claim to have seen everything he’s done, but I liked him in everything I saw (such as “The Patriot” and “A Knight’s Tale”–although the latter was pretty bad, overall).

I look forward to seeing what critics and insiders have referred to as the role that should make him a household name–Heath’s portrayal of The Joker in the upcoming Batman flick. In what few glimpses I’ve had of his work in the movie, he looks to be the best Joker since Romero–which isn’t that tough when you’re really only up against Jack Nicholson (sp?)…but even still…his laugh is even more chilling than Mark Hammil’s (again, sp?)–and that’s saying a lot.

…but, Heath’s current tour-de-force is a movie that has been mocked, degraded, dismissed, and even disdained by most religious groups (like they ever have anything relevant to say, anyway).

Let me put it this way. I am a straight, single man. I am comfortable with my sexual identity and I don’t get uncomfortable with any sexual subject matter, even if it’s something that isn’t “who I am.” That said… You’ve GOT to see “Brokeback Mountain” if you haven’t yet.

“Brokeback,” of course, tells the story of a homosexual-couple, one of whom is played fearlessly by Ledger. The two are cowboys, and they fall for one another, despite the involvement of Ledger’s character’s wife and much turmoil. It was a brave movie. It took two INCREDIBLY brave actors to be in it (both of whom were straight, btw). Despite the religious (sic) right’s opposition to any sort of relationship they can not personally understand or tolerate due to the age-old cancers of intolerance, prejudice, and hatred that mar their souls, this movie somehow managed to make more than a couple of “best of” lists. Deservedly so. It says something. It’s smart. It’s captivating. It’s brave.

Ledger was like that, from what I’ve seen. He turned down countless high-money gigs and pretty-boy roles, instead opting to play parts that he WANTED to play. He wanted to tell stories that he would be proud of telling. If that meant playing gay or putting on greasepaint and fighting a guy in a bat-suit (which, when you write it out like that, actually also sounds kind of gay), he’d do it. He gave himself over to any role he played. Read up on his method of creating The Joker. It’s pretty intense. It’s actually kind of disturbing, especially considering his death today.

I don’t know how Ledger died. There were pills near his body, and he was lying face down, naked, at the foot of his bed. That’s all we know right now. Could’ve been drugs. Could’ve been an accident. Could’ve been a massive heart-attack. Could’ve been suicide… Whatever…we don’t know yet, and who knows if we’ll ever find out for sure? All I know is I’m sad to see a man who’s only a year older than I am die, leaving behind a daughter that he loved dearly, and legions of fans and friends who admired his work and spirit. If anything, that’s the gift of film…he can always be remembered as he was on the screen.

…and the way he ran his career…that’s not so bad.

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3 thoughts on “RIP Heath Ledger”

  1. Don´t ask me how I came to find your blog, maybe through bits&pieces, don´t remember. The fact is that I like very much the way you write abt things and your sense of humour.
    I really liked your “life lessons”. Had to translate into Portuguese and send to my son.
    I live in Brazil. Hope to come back to your page soon.
    Hugs,
    Sônia

  2. Thanks. That’s really nice of you to say. Yeah, you probably found me through Bits&Pieces. Jonco recently linked to me and that increased my traffic a lot. Thanks for reading. I’ll try to keep posting stuff that interests people. 🙂

  3. excellent writing, derek. as you may know, I work on a news web site doing primarily entertainment… and this one really hit us hard. usually i have a cynical response to celebrity deaths, but none of that with Ledger. he was one of our generations finest and most thoughtful actors, not to mention a nice guy in real life. i know folks who live in the neighborhood where he and michelle williams lived, and they say he was just a friendly dude: no Hollywood BS w/ him.

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