Heath Ledger (1979-2008)

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Heath Ledger, in his tragically brief career, transformed from a teen heartthrob to a leading man to a devastatingly effective character actor. What was interesting with Ledger’s career is that he took the standard blockbuster type roles (A Knight’s Tale, The Patriot), while at more or less the same time taking on smaller, more personal films (like Monster’s Ball).

He first gained attention (at least in the United States) with his charming performance in Ten Things I Hate about You, but he proved that he truly was a gifted actor with his superb performance in Brokeback Mountain. This was a star-making turn if there ever was one. He was nominated for an Oscar, and Hollywood began to take him seriously after this.

He most recently portrayed an actor portraying Bob Dylan in the biopic I’m Not There, and gave a tremendous performance. This summer, he will play the Joker in the latest Batman film, The Dark Knight, and his work here (from what I’ve seen on the trailers) looks ambitious, uninhibited and fearless. I can’t seem to get his last scene in Monster’s Ball out of my head; his pain, his hurt, his misery.

His characters, even the light, goofier roles, had a depth, a complexity to them that many of his contemporaries couldn’t have if they really tried. A young, extremely talented actor, whose career probably would’ve just gotten better and better. His passing is a tremendous loss.

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