Tuesday, January 22, 2008

R.I.P. Heath Ledger—The Joker

FanBoyWonder was stunned to come home from work this evening to learn on the NBC Nightly News of the sudden and untimely death of actor Heath Ledger today at the age of 28.

During his short life and short but spectacular career, we first noticed Ledger in 2000 when he stared alongside Mel Gibson in the Revolutionary War action drama The Patriot.

However, like many Batman fans we were at first skeptical when we learned that he had been cast as The Joker in this summer’s sequel to Batman Begins—The Dark Knight.

Yet when we saw a 5 minute long preview clip, as well as the film’s trailer, we couldn’t helped but be blown away by his rendition of the Joker as less the Clown Prince of Crime and more Dark Prince of Evil.

We take some small consolation that Ledger finished filming his scenes in Dark Knight prior to his death so hopefully his final film will be minimally effected by his sudden passing.

Yet another reminder that life can be too short.

Below is Heath Ledger’s obituary posted in the early hours following his death from the Los Angeles Times.


By Mark Olsen, Special to The Times January 23, 2008

The surprising death of Heath Ledger, at age 28, ends all too soon a career that had been jelling into a fine body of work, marked by risk, fearless immersion and the seeming respect and affection of fans and colleagues alike.
It is not difficult to imagine his fame and legend continuing to grow, making him, if not the James Dean of his generation, most certainly its River Phoenix.
All three were actors who seemed able to transpose their interior pains into external gesture and behavior, providing deep insight into the emotional states of their characters, and in turn ourselves.
Ledger had always seemed to gravitate toward roles that featured him as the troubled outsider, even in his earliest roles.He elevated "10 Things I Hate About You" -- a 1999 teen take on "The Taming of the Shrew" -- with his buoyant charm and dark-laced charisma.
He also played the tortured son of Billy Bob Thornton's prison guard in 2001's "Monster's Ball."But it was in 2005's "Brokeback Mountain," for which Ledger earned an Academy Award nomination for best actor, that he seemed to turn a real corner in his acting, bringing tremendous nuance and sympathetic anguish to his role as Ennis Del Mar, a man struggling to bridge the gap between the person he is and the person he would want to be.
After "Brokeback" he seemed to be growing by leaps and bounds as a performer.His turn in last year's "I'm Not There," playing an actor who grows isolated by his fame and no longer able to connect to his wife and children, was remarkable.
His scenes with Charlotte Gainsbourg as his wife provided the film -- a look at the artistic personas of Bob Dylan -- with its heart.
Ledger's performance as the Joker in the upcoming "The Dark Knight," in which he takes on the role already made iconic by Jack Nicholson, has been eagerly anticipated. It will now provide an unintentional epitaph to a life and career that seem painfully cut too short.


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