Heath Ledger was found dead in his apartment, apparently of a drug overdose. He was 28.
What a tragic loss for those close to Ledger, and for his child. Matilda, daughter of Ledger and his fiancee at the time, actress Michelle Williams, was born in 2005.
And, of course, a great loss for those in the audience who appreciated his talent.
Ledger’s talent was extraordinary. Whatever you thought of the movies, his performances in The Brothers Grimm, Brokeback Mountain, I’m Not There, and so many others were very impressive. And he just played a drug-troubled rock-star/movie-star, whose celebrity costs him his family, in Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There. As with River Phoenix, only a few of his performances hinted at the range of his talent. I’ve been looking forward to all of Ledger’s upcoming projects (including a Terry Gilliam project… yes, another Gilliam project disrupted by calamity!)
Now, watching any of these upcoming films will be troubling indeed, as we’re reminded of what he could be at his best.
The big screen draws us into a sense of thinking we know something about the actors we’re watching. But we don’t. Their lives are as complex and challenging as ours, successful or otherwise. And when the truth is suddenly exposed, it’s a shock, and for a short while we regain perspective. We’re reminded that even the immensely talented among us are vulnerable, and that we should look out for one another with vigiliance and compassion.
It would be good for us to remember his family and friends and colleagues during this time, and pray that they would find comfort, strength, healing, and insight. We’ve lost a favorite actor, but they’ve lost a loved one.