One year ago today Heath Ledger died of an accidental overdose leaving behind a daughter and throngs of adoring fans. It is hard to believe it has already been a year, probably due to the amount of media coverage his last film role has received. Today the nominations for the Academy Awards were announced and not surprisingly Ledger was nominated for best supporting actor as The Joker in last years smash hit The Dark Night. Last year I wrote a post in memory of Heath and Brad Renfro who had passed right around the same time. I am re-posting (Jan. 31, 2008 was the original post date) it because I think it did a good job describing my feelings about the tragic loss of this fine young actor. May Heath rest in peace knowing he was loved and appreciated for his work as an actor as well as his character as a man.
For me when someone talented, interesting and special dies regardless of whether I knew them on a personal level, or admired their talent from a far, I grieve. The last two weeks have seen the death of two talented young men first Brad Renfro and then Heath Ledger. The minute I learned of each I had the same initial reaction.
1. Utter shock (stomach drops)
2. Disbelief (Heart races)
3. Curiosity (Reading as much as I could on initial reports)
I must digress for one moment. I interviewed both Actors between 1997-1999 when I worked press junkets for major motion pictures. They were both very young, handsome and talented, Renfro who was amazing in The Client and I had interviewed the cast of Apt Pupil.
I became a fan of Ledger’s initially for the obvious reasons, he was great to look at and charming. Through the years his films became better and he would shine in each role. Brokeback Mountain showed a mature actor taking risks and worthy of all the accolades, including an Oscar nomination. I have seen almost all of his films since. Candy was another heart breaking performance, as Ledger and Cornish brought to life the book of the same name.
The media coverage and all of the speculation took the focus off of the actual loss of Heath. Once again I experienced,
1. Anger (too young, too good)
2. Curiosity( continued almost non stop coverage by media)
3. Disbelief (Each time I saw his face, stomach drops)
Now that is has been several days and his memorial in Hollywood took place, his body is in his country and his family must bury their extraordinary son I feel,
1. Profound sadness.
3. And the beginnings of acceptance.
So this morning when I got on the computer I let myself truly experience the emotions by watching tributes to both Heath and Brad. Yes, I cried and smiled as I saw the familiar faces on the screen in roles I loved. I listened to their words in interviews and the songs played on tribute pieces compiled by so many on YouTube. I let myself feel the grief of knowing that these images, still or moving were the only ones left, their legacy. Of course Dark Knight has yet to be released, and this will cause a new wave of sadness and maybe anger.
The stages of grief are fluid. They are repeated and recycled until time allows otherwise. I have friends who think I am foolish, ridiculous and childish for caring at all. They certainly do not take me seriously and I usually try to avoid discussing these people with them because they say things purely out of ignorance and it simply angers me and makes me wonder how people could be so heartless.
I know that I am perhaps extra sensitive and that I cannot judge others for what they feel. However through the use of this tool, my trusty blog I can express my feelings freely and not care if I am judged to be overly sentimental or foolish. I love film and I love actors. So here is my tribute to a young man who shined on screen and whose light dimmed tragically early.