Heath Ledger's life, legacy were too short

Cary Ashby
Mar 29, 2010

 

Death always manages to grab us by the short hairs. Being someone who loves movies, I'm repeatedly saddened when the Hollywood community loses another star.

 

It's especially painful when someone as young as the late Heath Ledger, 28, leaves us too early. His untimely death Tuesday afternoon is unfortunate; he was just hitting his stride as an actor.

 

His legacy may be tied to the ground-breaking "Brokeback Mountain," but a quick review of his filmography reveals a hard-working actor who chose roles with artistic integrity. Ledger wasn't just a pretty face — although beauty is in the eye of the beholder; this young buck from Down Under worked hard at his craft and strived to do vastly different roles. (Click here for an outstanding retrospective written by a USA Today reporter.)

 

Being a lifelong Batman fan, I'm saddened that Ledger won't have the chance to reprise his role as The Joker in a third film, as was the plan for "Batman Begins" screenwriter David Goyer. Check out www.atasteforthetheatrical.com to see, even in 2-plus minutes, how powerful Ledger's performance will be in "The Dark Knight," to be released July 18.

 

Death makes it hard to put words together. Ledger's faithful followers are joined by hordes of worldwide Batman fans in mourning. My buddy Bill "Jett" Ramey, Webmaster of www.batman-on-film.com, said it best in his tribute to Ledger: I didn’t know Heath Ledger, but I know the character he plays in THE DARK KNIGHT very well. It's a character near and dear to my heart, and because of that, Heath Ledger became near and dear to my heart. That's how it is with fans.

 

Luckily for we self-centered Batman fans, Ledger finished his work on TDK late last year, but I'm very curious as to how Christopher Nolan will edit it. Like Jett, I can't imagine what the TDK crew is going through.

 

Ledger's death will no doubt influence how the ending of TDK is handled. Equally fascinating is what the plans are for The Joker, who was supposed to go to trial in Nolan's third Batman film. At the very least, I hope Nolan will dedicate "The Dark Knight" to the actor he brazenly cast as comics' greatest villain.

 

Heath Ledger deserves much more, but the same fans —and I admit to being one of them — who were skeptical about what him playing The Joker have been singing his praises lately. Even six months before before TDK is released. Sadly, we're also left mourning, wondering and wanting more. That's the way it is when death cuts someone's life much too short.

 

For now, watching Ledger as The Joker will be eerie, always a reminder of what Ledger brought to the iconic character — and could still have done had he lived. Regardless, I have no doubt Ledger's final film will be one hell of a swan song.

 

Mostly, my thoughts and prayers go out to Michelle Williams, their daughter Matilda and Ledger's family, friends and co-workers.