Saturday, June 13, 2009

Heath Ledger

I don't know where to begin.

I added Heath Ledger to my list on a day I was feeling brave...probably knowing it would be months before I got to him. So why worry?

Now I'm feeling less brave.

Last night I cried in bed thinking about him.

I'm being awfully melodramatic.

I know.

And I didn't even give the guy much thought before he died.

I remember the day he died though. I went with Jack to our friend's house. I managed to have fun and be sociable even though I was pretty depressed. When I got home, I checked my email. There was one of those CNN breaking news things. I opened it and saw that Ledger had died. I felt like I had been punched in the face.

My reaction probably came from being obsessed with Australia and being incredible holiday-sick for Australia. But there was also some slightly eerie stuff surrounding it all. That probably weirded me out a bit.

I think his death increased my depression, especially when I read about the awful Westboro Baptist church getting involved. I couldn't understand why people would be so horribly cruel.

Anyway, before he died I hadn't seen much of Ledger's work. I think I had seen only The Patriot.

Later after Heath Ledger died, I saw Ten Things I Hate about You which I thought was darling. And I saw most of The Dark Knight. Link

I think I also saw bits and pieces of other things. I'm sure my memory will be refreshed as I do the research.

I'm going to try to concentrate more on his life rather than his death. I feel I've already read so much about his death and funeral. I don't know if I want to go back there. We'll see.....

I guess I'll go have my morning date with Lord Wiki.....

Ledger was born on 4 April 1979.

Birthday website time!

He is an Aries like my awesome brother-in-law.

He's a 7 like me. The 7 is all about learning. We want to KNOW things.

Ledger was born in Perth. I knew that.

His mother was a French teacher.

I'm all confused about whether to use past tense or present tense.

Dead people grammar confuses me.

If I say his mother IS a French teacher, it sounds like Ledger is still alive. If I say his mother WAS a French teacher, it sounds like she's no longer teaching.

I really don't know what to do.

I guess I'll try my best.

His dad was/is a race car driver and a mining engineer. The family owned something called Ledger Engineering Foundry. I'm guessing that was owned by Daddy Ledger's family?
Little Heath went to Mary Mount's Primary School in Gooseberry Hill. Gooseberry Hill. That is so cute. It sound like the setting of a children's book.

I'm going to look it up on Google Maps....of course.

Gooseberry Hill is about twenty minutes east of Perth airport. According to Lord Wiki, the town is known for a plane crash that happened in 1945.

Ledger also went to Guildford Grammar School. It was here that he had one of his first acting experiences. He starred in the school's production of Peter Pan when he was ten. How cute. I love Peter Pan.

Ledger's parents divorced about a year later. I didn't realize they were divorced. Maybe I knew and forgot though.

Lord Wiki explains his sibling situation. It's a big confusing. I think he has one full sister. That's Kate. Then there are half-siblings as well. I think it's two half sisters; one from his father and one from his mother. All right. Well, that's not too confusing.

Ledger played chess. He won a junior championship when he was ten. Wow, that was a big age for Ledger. He stars in a play. He wins a chess championship. Oh and this is also when his parents separated.

Lord Wiki says when Ledger was an adult, he'd sometimes play Chess in Washington Square Park. We saw the chess stuff when we lived in NYC. I mean I don't think we saw Ledger playing, but we saw other people playing. I remember the chess shops around there too. They had all kinds of cool chessboards. When we went back to visit there on holidays, Jack and I would look at the shop windows.

I'm thinking Ledger was a pretty intelligent guy.

He graduated at the age of sixteen. Then he and his friend drove from Perth to Sydney. I bet that was a fun adventure.

In 1992, he returned to Perth to have a small role in a show called Clowning Around. Ernie Dingo was in it! Ledger played an orphaned clown.

All right. Something is wrong with Lord Wiki's information here. If Ledger graduated high school when he was sixteen, that would put the year at 1995 not 1992. IMDb agrees with Lord Wiki...that the movie was made in 1992. I'm guessing that's correct. I think what must be false is the idea that Ledger did the movie after he graduated. It sounds kind of weird anyway. Why would he travel all the way to Sydney, and then rush back to get a small uncredited role in a movie? I mean I know actors can get desperate, but that just doesn't seem worth it.

I think he came back for something else.  Another project. It could be this thing called Sweat; a TV show in which Ledger played a gay cyclist.

It looks like the show was on for only one year. There was twenty-six episodes, and I think Ledger was in all of them. Here's a clip from the show. Unfortunately, it's dubbed in Spanish and I have no idea what they're saying.

Ledger was on other shows as well.

He had parts in a series called Ship to Shore. He played a cyclist again. Aaron Jeffries from McLeod's Daughters was one of the stars. Jeffries played a character named Nick which is funny because in McLeod's Daughters that was the name of his brother.

In 1997 Ledger was on a show called Roar. Oh! He was actually the star of this one. It was an American TV show. I can't say I remember the show at all. It was produced by Shaun Cassidy who once sang this song.

He had a part in Home and Away. He played Scott Irwin, a student accused of cheating. Sometimes I feel as if all Australian actors have been on that show. No. I know that's not true. It just sometimes SEEMS that way.

Ledger was in a movie called Blackrock. The title makes me think of Lost. It looks like Ledger had a pretty small role in that...unless the actors are listed by order of appearance. You know who else is in that movie? Jessica Napier from McLeod's Daughters. I'm wondering if Heath Ledger has worked with everyone in the cast of that show at some point? You know.....I just realized something. I think I dreamed about McLeod's Daughters last night. It was about Jessica Napier's character Becky learning to box, and that guy who was interested in her when Brick went missing.

In 1999, Ledger starred in Ten Things I Hate About You. I guess he would have been about twenty at the time. In that same year, he starred in an Australian comedy about crime called Two Hands.

Okay, now I'm moving onto the 2000's.

The year 2000 is when The Patriot was released. I remember Tim and I saw that in a theater. This was when we often went to movies. Now we rarely go. Although I think we're actually going to see a movie tonight. The three of us are might see Up.

Ledger was in a movie called Monster's Ball. That sounds slightly familiar. It looks VERY interesting.  At least the plot does. It's about a racist prison guard who ends up falling in love with an African-American woman. She's played by Halle Berry. Is this the movie she won an Oscar for?

Okay. Yes. It is. I feel so ignorant these days when it comes to movies.

Ledger was in a Knight's Tale in 2001. I've seen bits from that film.

There was The Four Feathers in 2002. I don't think I've ever heard of that. Ledger is pretty low down in the credits so I'm guessing he didn't have a huge part in it. Although his face is on the movie poster, so I don't know.....

Wait. Lord Wiki has him as the star of the film. I guess I'll trust Lord Wiki here and assume IMDb is listing in order of appearance or something. Nope. I'm wrong. They've listed their cast alphabetically. Oops. My mistake.

In 2003, Ledger was in The Order and Ned Kelly. I've seen bits of the latter. I don't think I've heard of the Order.

Ah. The Order sounds like something I might like. Religious horror. I sometimes love those types of films.

In 2005, Ledger was in four movies.

There was Casanova which I've never heard of. No. Wait. I think I've heard of it. I might have even seen part of it. I think I might have gotten that movie confused with First Knight.

He was in The Brothers Grimm. I think I wanted to see that, but have never gotten around to it. That's the one that's directed by Terry Gillian, right? Have any of you seen it? Is it good? Stupid? Gilliam made two of my favorite movies: The Fisher King and Twelve Monkeys.

The third movie is a skateboarding movie called Lords of Dogtown. It doesn't really seem like my type of thing.

And then there was Brokeback Mountain. I need to see that movie someday. It was directed by Ang Lee. I used to love his movie The Wedding Banquet.

Brokeback Mountain earned Ledger awards and nominations. He won an award from the New York Film Critics Circle. For the Golden Globes and Oscars, he was nominated but didn't win. Who ended up winning? 
 Philip Seymor Hoffman least for the Oscars. I'm too lazy to check the Golden Globes.

Anyway, it doesn't matter whether he won or not. Getting nominated is an honor in itself. And it seems the critics adored him.

After Brokeback Mountain, Ledger starred in an Australian movie about heroin called Candy. It doesn't sound like something I'd like. I rarely like drug movies.

Then more recently he was in that Bob Dylan movie. I'm Not There. I usually don't like musician bio pics, but this one seems a bit intriguing. Different actors play Bob Dylan. I guess they each represent a different part of his life. Here's a Ledger scene from the movie. He has such a beautiful sexy voice; whether he's doing an American or Australian accent.

And then came The Dark Knight in which Ledger played a psychopath.

He won awards for that movie.

Before his death, he had completed work in another Terry Gilliam film called The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

I remember hearing about that movie. Whatever happened to it? Was it ever finished?

I have vague memories of reading that they thought of using one actor for part of the film, and then switching to another actor.

Okay. Yes! That's what they did. But it was actually four actors: Ledger, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrel. That's quite a cast. I need to see this movie. Christoper Plummer is in it too. Wow.

The movie hasn't come out yet. I didn't miss it. I hope it's good. It sounds like it has a lot of potential.

Lord Wiki says Ledger wanted to get into directing. He did some music videos.

Here's something sad. He wanted to make a documentary about a singer named Nick Drake. Drake died at the age of twenty-six from an overdose of antidepressants. Ledger wasn't that much older when he died. And I think he died from an overdose of prescription medication as well. Maybe he was attracted to Drake's story because there was part of him that knew the same thing was going to happen to him.

Now Lord Wiki talks about his controversial relationship with the paparazzi. He had problems with the ones in Sydney. That surprised me because I always thought they were more tame then the American ones. But Lord Wiki says things were so bad that he got up and moved to NYC.

There were rumors that Ledger spit on some reporters. He denied this. Then some reporters got their revenge by squirting him with water guns on the red carpet. All that sounds fairly silly and tame to me. Spitting and squirting. Although sometimes it's not the action that hurts, but the intent and emotions behind the action.

Ledger giggled when presenting Brokeback Mountain as a nominated film. People got on his case about that; thinking he was making fun of the movie. No. He just had some stage fright/nervousness. I totally believe him because I sometimes giggle when I'm nervous.

All right. Now onto Ledger's sleep problems. Oh shit. I can relate to the insomnia stuff. Fortunately, I don't have a chronic problem. But he talks about taking sleep medicine and it not helping. I had a night in April 2007 where I didn't sleep AT all. Unlike Ledger, I didn't take any strong sleeping medicine. I just took Benadryl and something else fairly innocent...maybe cough medicine? I think I actually had a respiratory thing going on so I had an excuse to take that stuff. These past few weeks, I had a lot of problems sleeping. I slept about 2-4 hours on some nights...even with Benadryl.

I hate insomnia.

It makes me feel like crap during the day, and since it usually happens when I'm anxious or depressed, I end up feeling even worse. Plus, I love my dreams so insomnia makes me feel really cheated.

Anyway, it turns out Ledger too had a respiratory thing happening. And he couldn't sleep. I think the difference between him and me is he took stronger and more dangerous drugs. I didn't. I've always been weary of drugs and I'm even more so after Ledger died.

This story makes me feel even more negative towards psychiatric drugs. This poor guy was so messed up. And what do people do for him? They give him drugs and more drugs. Obviously it didn't help. He just felt he had to take more and more drugs.

I feel so incredibly sad for him.

All right. The rest of Lord Wiki is about his death and all that. I'm not going to go into it. I might want to read more about what LED to his death, but I'm tired of hearing about the other stuff.

I'm going to read his Enough Rope interview. I've seen part of it on YouTube. Ledger looks incredibly uncomfortable to me...nervous or maybe drugged? He avoids looking at the camera. Maybe he's simply feeling shy. OR maybe the poor guy is just TIRED.

The interview was done in 2003. Ledger talks about not ever being invited to the Oscars. He doesn't claim not to care or dislike these types of events. He says he'd like to go. Well, I guess a few years later he was invited.

He talks about how he lives a fairly normal life. He raised two puppies. He makes lasagna. He cleans his house. That sounds like fun.  Sort of. Puppies take a lot of work. My sister got a puppy. Now she has a human baby. Guess which one was more of a challenge for her?

Yeah. That's why I have cats.

Denton and Ledger attended the same school, but not at the same time.

Ledger did choreography for the school.

He says he remembers his second year birthday. Wow! That's a very early memory.

His birthday cake came out. Ledger was all excited and then his cousin rudely blew out the candles for him.

Denton and Ledger talk about the Ned Kelly movie. There were rumors that Ledger purposely rented an apartment overlooking the Melbourne jail. But Ledger says that's not true. It did overlook the jail, but Ledger didn't know that when he got the apartment. One of his co-stars pointed it out to him. Ledger, says from his apartment, he could see Kelly's final walk and the place where he was hanged.

Ledger talks about the war in Iraq. He was very much against it. Denton asks if people have warned him that he's risking his career by being outspoken. Ledger says:
Yeah, but at the end of the day, what am I going to blow? My career? At the end of the day, my career is so insignificant in this…this war. It just is, and I'm willing to lose a few jobs over it.

I like that. Sometimes we have to risk our relationships and reputation to stand up for what we believe in. It reminds me of lyrics from Wicked.

Too long I've been afraid of
Losing love - I guess I have lost
Well, if that's love
It comes at much too high a cost

Those are lyrics I need to tattoo to my brain. I need to say them when I rise up in the morning and go to bed at night.

This website has a transcript of an interview with Ledger from The Sydney Star Observer.

It was done in 2006, and is about Brokeback Mountain.

Ledger says he found leaflets attached to the scrip warning that the film was risky and controversial. His opinion of the script was: What I was left with once that all disappeared was this incredible story and one of the most beautiful screenplays I’ve ever read. And an opportunity to play this incredibly complex, lonely man. And so I was really excited.  I didn’t find it risky. Whether or not it’s controversial I think is completely relative to the person you are, and I never found the subject controversial, nor should it be.

Amen to that. Will we ever live in a time where homosexuality isn't controversial? I doubt it, but I hope I'm wrong.

You know. I was just having my own prejudices. I started thinking how weird it would be to be a man doing romantic sexual things with another man....I mean if you're not gay. But what about all the homosexual actors who play heterosexuals? They're pretty much in the same boat. 

Maybe what's harder is having an onscreen relationship with someone you actually ARE attracted to. I think one of the hardest things would be kissing someone you have a crush on--pretending for the film that you're in love with them. But at the same time you try to hide that you really have feelings for them....I mean if they were already in a relationship with someone else, and/or you knew they had no interest in you. And wouldn't that be hard as well? What if you were in love with your co-star and he had no feelings for you? But in your scenes together, he acted like he was madly in love?

I'm not quite sure I could handle any of that. No wonder actors are such emotionally messed up people.

Ledger says this which is made even more poignant by what happened after his death.... it does disappoint me that there are still people in this world who go out of their way to protest and express disgust over the way in which two people choose to love one another. Why aren’t they using all that energy to go out and protest the ways in which two people would express anger and violence toward each other? I don’t know, it baffles me. It’s just really immature I think at the end of the day.

I think immature is an understatement. I'd prefer to call it pathologically disgusting and evil.

I think it's bad enough that there are people out there who go out of their way to protest homosexuality. But to want to go to the funeral of Ledger and say nasty things about him in front of his family and friends....that's inexcusable.

Why are there such horrible people in the world?

I wonder what's worse though. People who loudly protest against the love of others, or people who stand silently as violence, hatred, and/or abuse occurs right in front of them.

I guess to me they're both pretty awful.

Oh. I think I totally love Ledger. I love what he says here about whether he asked for help from gay friends in playing the character.

I don’t have to go out and find out how to play gay, because I think that’s what the problem is – labels. I don’t think it’s as black and white as that. I think sexuality is a continuum and it was about just playing a human being who’s in love with another man. It is a gay story because it’s between two men, but it was important to have him just as a human being, filled out with human flaws and faults, and let the story carry.

At the end of the film, Ledger talks about synchronosity. It's very sweet and romantic. He says, The amount of synchronicity that has come from this one choice, one day, just deciding to do this movie. And now I have just the two most beautiful girls in the world, who I fall deeper and deeper in love with daily.

It's amazing to look at our children and think about the small and/or big choices we made that led to them being born. I like to think of all the experiences that led me to marrying Tim, and how that all led to us having Jack. And I think almost all parents have stories like that.

Here's a disturbing blog entry about Heath Ledger and insomnia. It talks as well about other celebrities who have died from insomnia related causes.

The author of the post says
In my research on insomnia, I have spoken to quite a few people who told me that they had reached a point at which they just didn't care, they'd do anything to sleep.

I fortunately have not yet reached that point. My recent insomnia was due to being upset and stressed. As soon as I worked out my feelings, and had a somewhat healthier attitude towards what happened, I was able to sleep. But even in those few days, the insomnia was horrible. I can't say I wouldn't become desperate if it lasted longer.

The blogger talks about how people believe that insomnia is a symptom of depression and anxiety. But it could be the other way around. Insomnia may CAUSE depression and anxiety. In my case, it usually works in a more circular way. I'm depressed or anxious. Then I get insomnia and it makes the depression and anxiety even worse.

The blogger talks about how we gloat at the death of these celebrities sometimes; or at least declare that they deserve their demise. They were wild and reckless. But the blogger says, Maybe it satisfies our sense of drama to see their ends as somehow fitting -- spectacular endings to spectacular lives, poetic justice, the price of fame. But probably some of them were just trying to get to sleep.

This is a really powerful blog post. The blogger says, But the stigma attached to this disorder -- that it's neurosis or psychopathology or a condition we bring on ourselves -- makes many of us choose to quietly increase our dosage rather than reach out to seek help.

Stigmas....bringing it on ourselves. It's really hard to have a psychological/medical condition that people don't take seriously. It's hard to call out for help and feel like you're not truly heard. It's hard to feel like total shit inside. Sometimes people become desperate. They might take drugs. They might drink. They might cut themselves. In my case, I returned to my eating disorder. I feel ashamed about that, but at times it feels like the only thing I can do to keep myself from falling into a deep dark hole. It's bad, but at least eating disorders are SLOWLY destructive. I can make bad choices, but there's hope that I can pull myself out of it. With drugs, one desperate mistake and/or wrong choice might bring death a few hours later.

After reading about Ledger, I am going to vow never to go on any type of strong sleeping medication or sedative. It would just be too easy to get incredibly upset and make a rash stupid decision.....or just get DESPERATE and make the wrong decision.

I don't know.

I think we should stop drugging people so much and instead find other ways of helping people with their problems.

Or maybe not.

Maybe there's no solution.

A lot of people talk about mental illness as simply another medical disease. You're sick. Don't be ashamed. Just take this medication and you'll start getting better.

I don't deny that there are biological and genetic components to depression, insomnia, anxiety, eating disorders, and addiction. But I believe it's MUCH more complicated than that.

The world is too painful. There's way too much shitty meanness. Some of us can cope with it. Some of us can't. We in the latter group sometimes turn to bad stuff that makes us feel better; that allows us to deal with everything.

I'm lucky in that my problems come and go. My life isn't THAT bad. I have more good days than bad. On the bad days, I sometimes deal with things by making unhealthy decisions and having unhealthy thoughts. Then I have a good day and I make healthy choices again. But there are people out there who have MUCH worse lives--who don't have breaks from hell. We can look down at them for overdosing on their psychiatric drugs, overeating, or starving themselves, but really. What is the alternative?

I know. I know. There's yoga and herbal tea.

I have this blog. It's my personal savior; probably a huge mistake to take that hiatus, by the way. That was probably the LAST thing I needed.

We the emotionally disturbed have our cute little healthy ways of coping. But sometimes life sucks too much and those little things don't quite help enough.

I am so sorry that Heath Ledger is no longer with us.

I am so sorry for all the other less famous people who also suffered and are no longer with us.

This is a depressing post.

I know.

And THAT is why I dreaded writing it.

Now I'm glad to be done with it.


  1. I don't know a lot about Ledger but in Brokeback Mountain, his acting was superb and very restrained. I recall the Denton interview. He was clearly under the effect of something. It is sad that he died so young.

  2. Andrew,

    Yeah. He looks like he was on something. It could have been heroin. It could have been insomnia.

    Who knows....

  3. Roar was a good show. I only saw it once or twice when it was on. Then the sci-fi channel had a marathon of it one day and saw more and liked it. It's also on DVD.

  4. Rebecca,

    Hi! I'm glad you liked the show. Maybe I'll watch it someday. I'm not sure if it's my thing or not. But we do have similar taste in movies and all that. Don't we? If you like it, I'd probably like it.

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