January 22, 2008, at the mere age of 28, Heath Ledger passed away from accidental prescription drug overdose in New York, NY. Leaving behind a beautiful daughter Matilda and an impressive young acting career.
Today I pay tribute to Heath because his ability to completely dive into each and every character and full embody their every movement and thought, so early on in his career, was unlike anything Hollywood had ever seen. From his early career as Patrick Verona in 10 Things I Hate About You to his brilliantly frightening portrayal of The Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. This performance earned Ledger the Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, posthumously.
My Favorite Heath Ledger Films:
10 Things I Hate About You 1999
This was the film that first introduced me to Heath Ledger and he had me at that smile. If you don’t know what I’m talking about just do yourself a favor and pick up this 90s rom-com. Opposite Julia Stiles and along with the well-known cast of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Larisa Oleynik, Gabrielle Union and the ever funny Larry Miller, this cast ensures quick humor and strong chemistry making this movie among the great rom-coms of the 90s.
The Patriot 2000
Though Ledger played a smaller role in this film he still had the ability to captivate me. Side note: Hopefully by now you have come to the conclusion that I am pretty much infatuated with Heath Ledger. Ledger played the eldest and rebellious boy of many in this Mel Gibson war drama. I highly recommend this movie for a good ole history lesson on some aspects of the American Revolution. Did I forgot to mention that Draco Malfoy’s father plays the villain to Gibson’s family?
The Brothers Grimm 2005
After seeing this film, I had quite the obsession with the Grimm brothers, deciding that my first born son was to be named Wilhelm. Since then my tastes in children’s names has changed don’t worry. Though my sister is probably shaking her head after seeing I put this movie on here, I have to disagree because although this movie is a bit scary, it is wonderful. Starring not only Heath Ledger but Matt Damon too. These two are funny and lovable charters who have to ditch their con-artist ways in order to save a small village from real terror.
Brokeback Mountain 2005
It’s impossible to mention Heath Ledger without bringing up the 3 time Academy Award Winning, Brokeback Mountain. I will admit that I can’t even watch this movie the whole way through without crying several times. The cinematography is stunning and really plays up an already incredible setting. Last semester at school I took a life changing class, American Independent Cinema. In this class we discussed the history of american independent cinema and the cultures around that made american independent cinema what it is today. After extensive analysis of many independent films I have learned to pick out an indie film like a needle in a haystack and while watching this film it hit me that it had many of the characteristics shared by many independent films. There was an emphasis on silence in dialogue and ever camera movement had a purpose, it wasn’t stylized. It’s a big deal that this movie is an indie because this Ang Lee drama grossed a lot of money and has become quite popular, which is usually not the case for an independent film. So if you haven’t seen this film I really recommend you do so. It really is truly a beautiful film.
The Dark Knight 2008
At this point in our time I feel it seems impossible that anyone hasn’t heard about or seen this film because it’s just that good. From the acting to the special effects to the fast cutting and excellent cinematography. It is truly a masterpiece. It’s hard to sum up Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker in only a few words. His character is very frightening yet very lovable at the same time. Allow me to let the man tell you about preparing to be The Joker and about The Joker himself:
“It’s a combination of reading all the comic books I could that were relevant to the script and then just closing my eyes and meditating on it. I sat around in a hotel room in London for about a month, locked myself away, formed a little diary and experimented with voices — it was important to try to find a somewhat iconic voice and laugh. I ended up landing more in the realm of a psychopath — someone with very little to no conscience towards his acts. He’s just an absolute sociopath, a cold-blooded, mass-murdering clown.”
So there’s to you Heath Ledger, I was really hoping to meet you in Hollywood someday but until then I will spend my evening binge watching all of your movies I have yet to see.