This was originally posted on the Movie Fanatic website on January 22, 2009, the one year anniversary of Heath Ledger’s death.
Today is the one-year anniversary of Heath Ledger’s death. I suppose it’s not really necessary for me to add my small voice to the chorus of solemn tributes and fangirly hysterics that will no doubt be whispered and shouted all over the net today. I’m going to anyway. Don’t worry; it’s going to be brief.
To say that he was a talented actor with extraordinary good looks is to state the obvious, but his looks weren’t what initially drew me to him. Hollywood stood up and took notice of him after his roles in the popular teen flick “10 Things I Hate About You” and the box office smash “A Knight’s Tale.” They offered him a career on a silver platter, a career filled with popular teen flicks and hot leading man roles, a career of certain fortune and big, big fame. It wasn’t the career he wanted. He wanted to act, to learn, to prove himself. To take the kind of roles he wanted to take, to have fun with it, not to be the next It Boy. So he told Hollywood to fuck off (I don’t know that he literally said, “Fuck off”, although it’s what I like to imagine he said) and set out on his own path. If he was going to succeed, he was going to do it on his terms, and if he was going to fail, it was going to be because he didn’t compromise.
I really admire that kind of thing. It’s extremely rare in any business, but especially so in the movie business. By now we know that he succeeded. The fact that he did so on his own terms was – and still is – a great source of joy and inspiration for me, in my personal as well as my professional life, even as his loss is still a source of great sadness. Chris Nolan put it better than I ever could: “After Heath passed on, you saw a hole ripped in the future of cinema.” He is, and will continue to be, greatly missed.