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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Film: Heath Ledger, R.I.P.

Actor Heath Ledger was found dead in his Manhattan apartment yesterday, possibly the victim of an accidental overdose of sleeping pills, though it's too soon to tell. He was 28.

Ledger along with his former fiancee Michelle Williams, were especially beloved among New York's hipsterati. They saw in the couple a reflection of themselves -- artists living in Brooklyn, raising their young daughter (only 2 years old now), fighting the Atlantic Yards development. When the couple split last year some of that luster faded, but Ledger continued to take interesting and challenging roles and to live in New York, albeit in Manhattan. New Yorkers knew him as a down-to-earth neighbor who shunned the paparazzi and the clubs.

Ledger first came to stardom with a role in the teen comedy adaptation of The Taming of The Shrew, 10 Things I Hate About You. Not content to settle for a Freddie Prinze Jr. heartthrob trajectory, Ledger tried his hand at Hollywood blockbuster drama in The Patriot as Mel Gibson's son, tongue-in-cheek historical fare with A Knight's Tale and Terry Gilliam's The Brother's Grimm and an outback western of sorts with Ned Kelly.

His greatest role however has been his Oscar nominated turn as closeted gay cowboy Ennis Del Mar in Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain, a heartbreaking performance that used every facet of the actor's craft to meld performer with character seamlessly. It's a testament to strength and sensitivity of his work that Ennis Del Mar has become an iconic touchstone for the Gay community. GLAAD issued a statement on the actor's death: "Heath Ledger will forever be remembered for his groundbreaking role as Ennis del Mar in Brokeback Mountain. His powerful portrayal changed hearts and minds in immeasurable ways. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

Ledger's last roles continue his artistic questing. He is currently in the Bob Dylan fantasy I'm Not There and completed photography on next summers Batman flick, The Dark Knight in which he reinvents the role of The Joker. He was currently working on a new film with Director Terry Gilliam.

Here's a great scene from Brokeback Mountain:

1 comment:

DavePress said...

Damn shame. I've heard a couple people here and there label his death a kin to James Dean's passing for this generation.