Tag Archives: Heath Ledger

Thoughts On The 10 Year Anniversary Of Heath Ledger’s Passing

There is an old Jewish blessing:

“May you live until 120”

Unfortunately, some of us will not even get close to our golden years. 10 years ago today, Heath Ledger, one of the brightest young stars in Hollywood died of a drug overdose. He was 28 years old.

When I think of Heath Ledger, I think of an actor who could have easily let himself be typecast. But he fought against that type casting. The result of that fight is a brief career full of roles that are contradictory in every shape and form.  Unfortunately, like so many, he lost his life due to an accidental overdose of prescription drugs, ending what was the only the beginning of a life long career.

Wherever you are sir, RIP. You will not be forgotten anytime soon.

 

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RIP Heath Ledger

Every generation has that performer. That performer burst onto the scene, spoke to their generation, burnt bright and unfortunately, left this world just as they are about to hit their stride. Heath Ledger was that performer.

He started acting at a young age and shot to fame in 1999 in 10 Things I Hate About You, a modern high school reboot of the Shakespeare play Taming Of The Shrew.

Ledger was not one to be boxed into a specific character type or narrative. His roles varied from a peasant pretending to be a knight in A Knights Tale (2001) to a gay cowboy in the closet and in love with his best friend in Brokeback Mountain (2005).


His final completed role was The Joker in 2008’s The Dark Knight. Unlike his predecessors who played the role, Ledger’s Joker was more scary than laughable. This Joker was unpredictable and kept both the audience and Batman on their toes throughout the film.

He sadly died of a drug overdose 9 years ago leaving behind brokenhearted family members, friends and fans. While his career and life were sadly cut short, his work will live on.

Z”l. RIP.

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Happy Birthday, Heath Ledger

If the mark of an unforgettable actor is that his or her fans shed a tear for them and remember the performances that moved them, then Heath Ledger is most certainly an unforgettable actor.

He died at the young age of 28, leaving a hole in our lives that will never truly be filled.

We will never know what his career could have been. But we can remember what it was and the impact it left on audiences. In honor of his birthday, which was yesterday, let us take a moment to remember his finest work.

The Dark Knight (2008)

The Joker was the last role Ledger completed before his tragic death. While other actors tried to exude a charm under the face paint, Ledger’s psychotic Joker sent a chill down the backs of audiences. If and when there is another Batman movie and the Joker is the antagonist, this actor, whomever they are,  will have mighty big shoes to fill.

A Knights’s Tale (2001)

William Thatcher is a peasant who has been working for a recently deceased knight since his childhood. When his master dies, William decides to take fate into his own hands. The only problem is that there is no such thing as a self made man in those times. Whatever your place in life was at birth, it would remain fixed for the rest of your days. But William is not content to remain as he is, so he takes a chance and pretends to be a knight with aristocratic origins. That is only the beginning.

Last, but certainly not least, one of my perennial favorite Heath Ledger movies……

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

Taming Of The Shrew set in a modern high school, Ledger played a high version of Petruchio opposite Julia’s Stiles’s Kat. This movie is electric. Their chemistry is obvious from the word go. Instead of using vague character and plot references, the screenwriters kept to the original narrative while making the movie feel fresh and new.

Heath Ledger was not the type of actor to rest on his laurels and play the same character in the same genre over and over again.

RIP, sir, your physical presence maybe gone, but your work will live on.

 

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Flashback Friday- Heath Ledger Triple Feature- Casanova (2005), The Brothers Grimm (2005) & A Knights Tale (2001)

Heath Ledger belongs to an elite group of performers. His drive and talent were obvious from the earliest days of his career. His career was flying high when he passed away in 2008. While he may be gone, his movies and his legacy will live on.

In Casanova (2005) Ledger plays the legendary lover. Francesca (Sienna Miller) is the daughter of a noblewoman who is engaged to a much older man. She is also the writer of a feminist pamphlet, using the pen name of Guardi to protect her identity. Casanova is in love with Francesca, while engaged to another woman. Adding to the list of complications is the church who are all too eager to root out heretics.

I like this movie. The balance of feminism, history, myth and romance makes for a good film.

That same year, Ledger starred with Matt Damon in The Brothers Grimm. Wilhelm Grimm (Ledger) and Jacob Grimm (Matt Damon) are con artists who pretend to have access to potions and spells to keep out dark magic. Then they encounter a village where the magic, the curses and the mythical creatures are real. Now Will and Jacob must use real courage to defeat the curse and free the town.

I like this movie. Fairy tales, myth and special effects that help, not overpower the story,  I couldn’t ask for more in a film.

Four years earlier, Ledger starred in A Knights Tale. William Thatcher (Ledger) is an young squire whose master has recently passed. Seeking glory, William, with the help of his companions takes on the image of a knight.  While he finds the glory, the wealth and the fame, his attempt to pass as a knight might be curtailed by Count Adhemar (Rufus Sewell), who is seething with jealousy as William attracts the attention of Jocelyn (Shannyn Sossamon).

I wouldn’t say that this movie is historically accurate. But it is fun and sometimes, that’s what we want in a movie.

I recommend all three.

 

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Two Teen Movies That Transcend Their Genre (And I Happen To Love)

The best teen movies are the ones that transcend their genre and generations. Regardless of our age and how old we were when these movies were released, we can still relate to them.

Two of my favorites are based in classic literature, Taming Of The Shrew by William Shakespeare and Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw.  They were also rebooted into Broadway musicals, Taming Of The Shrew remade into Kiss Me, Kate and Pygmalion remade into My Fair Lady.

But I happen to love their modern teenage remakes, 10 Things I hate About You and She’s All That.

10 Things I Hate About You is the story of the Stratford Sisters. Biana (Larissa Oleynik) is extremely eager to be popular and date Joey Donner (Andrew Keegan). But her hilarious and cringe inducing overprotective father (Larry Miller) will not allow Bianca to date until her older sister Kat (Julia Stiles) is dating. Kat has no interest in dating anyone. Cameron James (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is new to the school and falls in love with Bianca instantly.  He uses Joey, who pays Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger), to date Kat, so he can go on a date with Bianca. The end result is very interesting and very entertaining.

I love this movie. The screenwriters kept the Beatrice and Benedict relationship between Kat and Patrick (as well as some of the Shakespearean language from the play)  while  dulling the sexist and misogynistic language of the original text. The late Health Ledger (pre Batman and pre Oscar for Brokeback Mountain) has a massive potential as an actor, that potential shines through in his later roles. Julia Stiles is another up and comer who proves that she has the talent to go very far.

She’s All That starts at the tail of senior year. Popular Zach (Freddie Prinze Jr) has just been dumped by his girlfriend (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe).  Zach’s friend Dean (the late Paul Walker), makes a bet that Zach can turn any of his female classmates into prom queen.  Zach’s choice is Laney (Rachael Leigh Cook), the artsy outsider.

I love this movie. It’s one of those movies that I can find on cable and brought back to that time in my life. The coup that makes this movie stand out from other teen movies of this era is that Zach and Laney are each dealing with their own internal pressures. As their relationship grows, they find a way to deal with those pressures. This is another movie full of then up and coming performers (Usher, Gabrielle Union (who also had a part in 10 Things I Hate About You), Anna Paquin, Dule Hill) who have had steady careers since then.

Both of these movies have quotable lines and soundtracks that fit in so perfectly with era that they premiered.

I recommend them both.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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RIP Phillip Seymour Hoffman

A long time ago, Billy Joel wrote “Only The Good Die Young”.

He should have said only the great die young.

James Dean, Natalie Wood, River Pheonix, Heath Ledger, James Gandolfini.

Sometimes the greatest talents aren’t destined to die of old age. They die well before that, when they are still at the peak of their greatness.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman‘s name can now be added to this list.

He died this morning of an apparent drug overdose.

I saw him in the most recent revival of Arthur Miller’s classic play, Death Of A Salesman.  While he was a few decades younger than the character and Brian Dennehy, who had played the character in the previous revival, it felt like I was seeing this play and introduced to this character for the first time.

His Willy Loman was a man of big dreams, caught between the past and the present, between dreams and reality. It was an incredibly powerful performance. I wish I had seen it more than once.

My heart and my prayers go out to his friends and family.

While he is gone from this world, his work and his legacy will remain.

RIP

 

 

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