Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"I'm still a kid": Heath Ledger, born April 4, 1979

I'M STILL A KID: HEATH LEDGER, BORN APRIL 4, 1979 -- "I'm still a kid. I'm like six years old. But it's just a matter of wanting to get up, it's just a big journey. I felt like when I left home that I was on a journey, and I still am," said actor Heath Ledger.  He would have been 33 years old this coming Thursday, but the journey ended all too soon on January 22, 2008 in Ledger's fourth floor loft apartment in the Soho neighborhood of Manhattan.  The kid was gone, the smiling boy was no longer.  We at Studio of Style remember going to the movie theater 10 nights in a row in 2005 (true!) -- watching with a purpose Brokeback Mountain.  Why 10 nights in a row, you ask?  Each viewing had a separate agenda: analyzing the script on one night; the lighting on the other night; the direction, camera angles, the soundtrack, the main characters (wasn't Anne Hathaway simply amazing?); supporting cast (didn't you love to hate Randy Quaid's Joe Aguirre?) the continuity; listening to and watching the audience's reactions to key scenes (you know which ones); and lastly, but not leastly, the absolutely amazing performance by Ledger and his amazingly complex Ennis (kudos still to Ang Lee for his Oscar-winning direction!).  Though it was Phillip Seymour Hoffman -- and not Ledger -- who received the Oscar for best actor for Capote, it is still Ledger's performance in Brokeback Mountain that has left an indelible mark in cinema history. Ledger was brilliant in many ways -- did you know that he was  the Western Australia junior chess champion at the age of 10?  And, that as an adult, he often played chess with other enthusiasts in New York's Washington Square Park?  And that he left school at age 16 to pursue acting, such was his passion for the craft -- and that he was so inspired by dancer Gene Kelly that he was once a member of his grammar school's 60-member dance team that won at the renowned Australian Rock Eisteddfod Challenge? The boy, the man, the actor, the chess player -- he lit up the screen and our lives.  Said Ledger in 2000, "I'm not good at future planning. I don't plan at all. I don't know what I'm doing tomorrow. I don't have a day planner and I don't have a diary. I completely live in the now, not in the past, not in the future."