“A gifted young star, a tragic old story,” reads the headline in Entertainment Weekly. The effort to canonize Heath Ledger as artistic martyr, it seems, is already underway.
The actual cause of Heath Ledger’s death remains unknown as I write this. An autopsy was inconclusive and there are conflicting reports over whether it might have been prescription drugs, illegal drugs, or some purely natural cause that killed him at age 28 last week.
The emerging narrative of the actor’s life story is much clearer: He was a sensitive soul who was crushed by his efforts to be a True Artist. He pushed himself too far in pursuit of his muse and gambled with his sanity and his health.
In his native Australia the headline in the Sydney Daily Telegraph headline read: “Heath burned candle at both ends…but what a Beautiful Flame,” while the Sydney Morning Herald described the “sleepless stress of a troubled star.”
In the U.S., the Washington Post noted that Ledger “was self-taught and often castigated himself in interviews about his perceived shortcomings as a performer.”
The Post quoted him as saying, “I feel the same way about everything I do…The day I say ‘It’s good’ is the day I should start doing something else.”
READERS WERE TOLD again and again that he was a great actor, always pushing the boundaries. He had turned away easy heartthrob roles in bankable films for more challenging, artistically risky parts.
Director Terry Gilliam noted how Ledger was perfectly at ease with “screaming like a girl” in The Brothers Grimm. Entertainment Weekly called Ledger “alluringly restless” and said that in his performance as the gay cowboy in Brokeback Mountain, “he showed just how deep he could go.”
The L.A. Times’s Kenneth Turan said, “Ledger brings this film alive by going so deeply into his character you wonder if he’ll be able to come back.”
Ledger’s last completed performance was playing the Joker in the upcoming Batman sequel. Now that may sound like an easy payday for a big Hollywood blockbuster to you or me. But we would be wrong.
“Ledger must have found the prospect of playing a leading role in such a high-profile enterprise daunting,” reported EW.
The prescription drugs found near his dead body? Well, he couldn’t sleep. If you had been pushing yourself as hard has he was to re-invent the role of Joker for the Batman franchise, you’d need some meds to handle the stress too, wouldn’t you?
Is it possible that something other than the demands of his art killed him? The AP asked Lee Daniels, who directed Ledger in Monster’s Ball, (aka that film you rented because Halle Berry got naked in it) whether Ledger might have had a real drug problem.
Impossible, Daniels replied, then added: “The definition of substance abuse is really up to one’s perspective…I didn’t see him as a drug addict. I saw him as someone who enjoyed life. I know drug addicts; he was not a drug addict.”
Glad we cleared that up.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?