“On Dark Knights I’m like Heath Ledger!”
It’s been 7 years since the entertainment community lost Heath Ledger. An immense talent who left us at the young age of 28. His career was cut short after an accidental prescription drug intoxication which lead to him having a cardiac arrest. Ledger has appeared in nineteen films from 1999 until his death in 2008.
The Australian born Heath Ledger was first inspired to act on stage by his older sister who was an actress before becoming a publicist. Ledger’s first role outside of the stage came in ’92 by taking a small role in the Australian two-part series Clowning Around. From ’93 to ’97 he had parts in several TV shows including one of Australia’s most successful shows, Home and Away. Heath made his feature film debut in the Australian film Blackrock in ’97. The following year Heath Ledger was put into the American spotlight with his role in 10 Things I Hate About You starring alongside Julia Stiles and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. With a low-budget the film was a financial success fairly easily.
“Psychopathic, mass murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy.”
In the 2000’s Heath really started to get rolling with appearances in several films including The Patriot, Monster’s Ball and his first leading role in A Knight’s Tale. In 2005, he took it up a notch after his critically acclaimed performance in Brokeback Mountain opposite Jake Gyllenhaal. He earned his first Golden Globe and Academy award nomination as well. The role that really solidified his talent as an actor came in ’08 with his portrayal of the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight. Ledger often times got so connected to the role that it was often times hard to disengage. The danger in this case was that his character was described in Ledger’s words as a “psychopathic, mass murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy.”
Heath would read as many comics that pertained to his character as possible while locked in a hotel room for months. He would also keep a diary of pictures and information about the Joker while practicing voices to himself. No one knew more about his character than Heath Ledger. He was so educated and engaged that he even got to direct the torture scenes for the movie himself without any help from Nolan. The performances were sometimes so frightening that Michael Caine would forget his own lines. Maybe the most bizarre tidbit in this story is on the last page of the diary Ledger wrote “BYE BYE” across the whole page. Acting is a hard gig and it’s even more difficult to be convincing and at the same time be able to treat the role as a character.
Heath Ledger went on to win an Academy award posthumously for his performance in Dark Knight. His last appearance on the screen was in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus in 2009. In his 28 short years he left us with some memorable captivating performances that will always be remembered. Rest in Peace.