Heath Ledger, 1979-2008

23 Jan

Heath Ledger passed away yesterday, and already things are on a negative path.

Terrible “news” reports are coming out filled with speculation and so-called sources who claim to have known him.

Commenters on other blogs (thankfully) are writing horrible things about him, the way he lived his life and the roles he chose in his career.

Lots of them are saying, “Why care?” They say he’s just an actor, that he’s a celebrity and we shouldn’t care what happens to celebrities.

I’m right there with them to a point. I’ve never cared about the gossip side of entertainment news. I don’t care who has a baby or what went on at a nightclub. But I do care about the work, and sometimes art, that these celebrities, actors, actresses, men, women, moms, dads, sons, daughters — humans — create.

I’ve always turned to entertainment or art as solace. I’ve allowed the people who create this into my life. I guess that’s why Heath Ledger’s death is upsetting me so much.

But, when I heard that he had died, I remembered him, and therefore remembered parts of my life, some things I’d almost forgotten.

I, like so many others, loved “10 Things I Hate About You.” I especially loved Ledger in that movie. It looked like he was having so much fun with that role and he passed on that feeling to the audience. It was a movie all my friends in high school loved, too.

I remember watching “A Knight’s Tale” with the guy I was seeing then. I had never liked “Golden Years” by David Bowie — I just never got it, you know? — until I saw “A Knight’s Tale.” I got it then. My then-boyfriend, though, didn’t, and I had to defend the way the movie used the music.

Later, I remember my freshman year of college, my friend Sara’s roommate had a poster of Ledger from “A Knight’s Tale” up in their dorm room, and I used to joke I’d steal it from her.

I remember the hype from “Brokeback Mountain.” It came out while I was the editor of The Daily Mississippian, the Ole Miss student newspaper, so I never had the chance to see it. Then, some coward sent a DVD of the movie to one of my columnists as a piece of hate mail. I had no idea what to do with it (besides professionally dealing with it), so I kept it. I wanted to see it so badly that I actually stayed up one night after work to watch it, probably at about 4 a.m. I remember being blown away by both Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, and being so proud of them for making such a beautiful movie. I still have it and I’m glad we were able to thwart that hate-filled person’s evil plan.

I remember the last time he was on the cover of Rolling Stone. It was my first time in New York City and I had started roaming the city by myself. I picked up that issue in the Virgin Records Megastore in Times Square. I had plans go to see “The Producers” that night with my friend Bailey, and I wanted to stop by somewhere and grab a bite to eat before getting ready. I stopped by some hole-in-the-wall pizza joint, where the guy working there was hands down the nicest person I’d met in the city so far, and I sat down, ate my food and read Heath Ledger’s interview. Of all the crazy times I had in New York, that was one of my favorite moments.

Basically, I remember how Heath Ledger touched my life, even if it was in bits and pieces. Even if it was in moments that were not earth-shattering or a turning point. Still, he was there, and I’m thankful for that. He made me smile, something that isn’t always easy to do.

Thoughts and prayers to his family.

If you’d like to remember Heath Ledger, please comment below. Comment with respect, please.

And, I know this isn’t Heath Ledger’s finest moment as an actor, but it’s a moment that made me, and I’m sure lots of others, smile. It’s the “Golden Years” scene from “A Knight’s Tale.”

One Response to “Heath Ledger, 1979-2008”

  1. poprockcandy January 23, 2008 at 11:51 am #

    Very well written–very poignant.
    I know this feeling; I remember being completely devastated when Chris Farley died. I’m not trying to compare him to Heath Ledger in any way. But, I remember that his death was extremely hard for me to grasp.
    Heath Ledger leaves behind a nice body of work, but more so, he leaves behind a two year old daughter, friends and family. And that, breaks my heart.

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