I'm sure most of you know by now the terrible business of yesterday: specifically, the death of Heath Ledger. If not...have you been living under a rock? Seriously, though, Heath was a young star, one of the very few who seemed to have his head on straight, and was just beginning to make his mark. He's one of the very few people in the crop of young actors and actresses that I respected. R.I.P. Heath. Here are a few words.
I hated him for awhile. The first thing I saw him in was "10 Things I Hate About You", and I couldn't stand that movie at the time. Then again, I was an obnoxious teenage ass at the time, and I hated a lot of things just because they didn't seem cool. Next movie I saw him in? "The Order". There's another movie I hated. I couldn't see that Heath was a talented actor - didn't realize how different the two roles were. I dismissed him as another pretty face in Hollywood, one that people were just tossing into movies left and right because he was that month's hot flavor.
I didn't see a single movie he was in for a good two years after that, until "A Knight's Tale". I had been studying Chaucer a bit for school, and I came across it and decided to watch it. I loved it! It was witty, it was fun. It didn't take itself too seriously. It was just an infectious movie. I had forgotten who Heath Ledger was, and so I went out to look for some of his past stuff. Older, and a little more secure in myself, I found that I actually enjoyed "10 Things I Hate About You", and that while by-and-large "The Order" was still complete rubbish, Heath did...a pretty damn good job.
I started to realize, looking over his films, that he was pushing himself. That he wasn't just a pretty face. He probably could've ridden the "10 Things" Hottie wave to shallow stardom. He didn't. He did a dark films, comedies, indie films, tragedies. He did 'em all. He would space out his work, pick something new or clever or just flat-out interesting, and when he got on camera, he would rock you.
When I heard that he had been cast as The Joker, I wasn't quite sure. I had been hoping for someone like Paul Bettany or someone like that, but I trusted the Nolans, and I decided I would wait for the trailers and only complain a little bit. And when I first saw him on those trailers, he blew me away. He wasn't the clowny Jack Nicholson Joker, who I despised. He was a terror, a figure of nightmares. He was fucking nuts.
Rumors are flying around that his role as The Joker might be to blame, or partially to blame. I don't know. Method acting can be brutal, and it seems like he was getting into the character waaaaaaaay more deeply than I believed anyone could. I don't know if there's any validity, and I don't know what it means. And I don't care, honestly.
All that matters is that we lost one of the best actors of his generation, a man who constantly challenged himself, and from all accounts, a genuinely stand-up guy.