Yesterday Heath Ledger became the latest celebrity to cut in front of Britney Spears in the death line, apparently overdosing on sleeping pills, though whether it was intentional or accidental is still under investigation. The internet is already buzzing with all sorts of rumors explaining the how and the why, including the theory floated on Newsarama, apparently taken from an interview with Ledger in the New York Times this past November, that Heath was so disturbed by the experience of playing the Joker in The Dark Knight that he couldn’t sleep, and resorted to taking Ambien. Well, maybe. Though, having seen the brain-addled hype that was Batman Begins, I can’t imagine making the sequel was such a psychologically scarring experience.
Scott Keith, a decent writer when it comes to pro wrestling and a fucking moron when it comes to just about everything else, wrote of Ledger’s death, “It’s a shame because people were already talking about Heath as an Oscar shoo-in for 2009.” Which people were those — people who have seen the film? Oh, that’s right, there aren’t any of those. The movie isn’t fucking done yet. Don’t be a shithead. The guy’s death is a tragedy for many reasons, but him missing out on his Best Actor Oscar for playing the Joker ain’t one of them.
He had a daughter with Michelle Williams. That’s another little baby who’ll have to grow up without her father. That’s tragic enough. I could stop right there. But there’s more. Heath Ledger was an actor of genuine talent, and his death is a real loss to those of us who love the movies. Already in his short life (less than a year older than me), he had starred in an absolute cinematic masterpiece. I maintain that he was robbed of that Best Actor Oscar for Brokeback Mountain. I love Phillip Seymour Hoffman as much as the next guy, and he was great in Capote, but I preferred Ledger’s tense and subtle performance as Ennis Del Mar to Hoffman’s impersonation. Had his life not ended yesterday in Manhattan, I’m sure he would have taken home one of those gold statues eventually. Just not for playing the Joker. Christ, Keith, use your head.