Heath Ledger will live on long after Joker’s laugh dies out (Tribute)July 29th, 2008 - 11:45 am ICT by IANS
By Sevanand Gaddala
The late Australian actor Heath Ledger didn’t care too much about being famous. In “The Dark Knight” he gives an electrifying performance as Joker with make-up smeared on his face. It is easy to forget, watching his performance, that he was a handsome 28-year-old man when he died. In 2005 he played a gay cowboy, a role that was turned down by many top Hollywood actors because it was too risky. In 2001, his breakthrough performance was in “Monster’s Ball” playing Sonny. He had a brief but intense role.
Ledger, throughout his tragically cut short career, stayed away from the pretty boy roles that could have easily bought him fame, and instead wanted to be a serious actor worthy of his talent and craft. For that, Ledger will go down in movie history as a legend.
In what is easily the most talked about performance of the year so far, Ledger playing the Joker dug into the souls and psyche of a mad man who abides by no rules and relishes in the mayhem chaos can create.
He took on a role that could have spilled into a caricature and injected it with just enough intellect, insanity, unpredictably and even charm. We will never get to see him again, and so this is a good a time to consider the great work he has done.
Ledger made his first real impression in “10 Things I Hate About You” in 1999. Watching him then one wouldn’t have been wrong to think he would take the road of the young Hollywood heartthrob going to take on roles where he would have to do nothing more than look good and exude some charm.
In his next two movies, “The Patriot” in 2000 and “A Knight’s Tale” in 2001, he didn’t have to plumb any depths of his talents and sought more to entertain. He could have cashed in on the chocolate boy status the media heaped on him for his performance in “The Patriot”, but he chose to not go down that road.
In 2001, he showed his true ability in a brief but touching performance as the tormented Sonny in “Monster’s Ball”. He appears in less than half the movie but the portrayal of anguish hangs over the other characters as they seek to move on with their lives.
Then in 2005 he co-starred with Jake Gyllenhaal in the Oscar winning “Brokeback Mountain”. He earned his only Oscar nomination for this performance. It is a brilliant portrayal of a man unwilling to live up to love that is true and deep within him.
Ledger pulls back incredibly and the best scenes are those where he doesn’t utter too many words. It is a portrayal drawn out from the centre of a yearning, anguish and restraint coiled up in the pit of the stomach. It could go down as the performance of his career.
Though blessed with talent, Ledger made some wise decisions to become a better actor. He loved experimenting, was ambitious and teachable. He allowed to be mentored by veterans like Mel Gibson, Billy Bob Thornton and Geoffrey Rush. He was a keen learner who soaked any wisdom and knowledge coming his way.
We are fortunate to have had a young actor take the craft of acting seriously and blessing us, even in death, with a performance that will haunt us long after the manic laughter of the Joker dies out in “The Dark Knight”.
Tags: 10 things i hate about you, actor heath, australian actor, breakthrough performance, caricature, chocolate boy, dark knight, gay cowboy, heath ledger, hollywood actors, insanity, intellect, mad man, mayhem, pretty boy, psyche, relishes, sonny, true ability, young hollywood