A dark night for Hollywood

Allan Lamb

Last week I wrote a brief on the death of Brad Renfro. Exactly one week later, I once again must write about the death of another young talented actor: Heath Ledger.

Ledger was found dead in his Manhattan apartment on Tuesday. The cause of death has yet to be determined. He was 28.

But I am not going to write about his death and the circumstances surrounding it, especially after CNN’s premature posting about the presence and/or involvement of the Olsen twins, which they later rescinded and replaced with information that had actually been confirmed. I don’t want to jump to any conclusions.

Instead, I will write about his life and career.

The first time I saw Heath Ledger on screen was when I rented 10 Things I Hate About You back in 1999. I found his rendition of Tom Jones’ “I Love You, Baby” that he sang to Julia Stiles to be quite charming and an instantly classic scene. Ironically, his next major role was alongside fellow Australian Mel Gibson in The Patriot (2000).

I must admit, I’m sure along with many others my age, that the vast majority of my knowledge of Chaucer comes from having watched A Knight’s Tale (2001), in which Ledger starred as a squire who poses as a knight.

After A Knight’s Tale, Ledger had established himself as both a heart-throb and critically acclaimed actor, which is rare for someone to be both. He continued with his success in both the mainstream and independent realms. Ledger became especially well-known for his role in the controversial Oscar-nominated film Brokeback Mountain (2005).

We were all surprised, and skeptical, when it was announced he would be playing The Joker in the upcoming Batman movie The Dark Knight. However, after seeing the stills, and then the trailer, all doubts have been lifted.

Unfortunately The Dark Knight will likely be Ledger’s final role. He was scheduled to be in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, directed by Terry Gilliam (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) with whom he worked with in The Brothers Grimm (2005). The film will likely continue without him, as his role is not a lead, but whether a stand-in will be used for the remainder of shooting or a reshoot will be done with a different actor has not been confirmed.

I was shocked and pained to hear of his loss, not just because he was so young, but because I admire his work. I, along with many others, am heartbroken. I don’t think I am alone in saying, “I will miss you, Heath.” Rest in peace.

Allan Lamb is the all editor for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].