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Heath Ledger

December 30, 2011

simple and peaceful life – “…I had no real desire to play a junkie,” he says. “But love is very important in my life and it’s something I am always interested to find within a story. But I like it to be smuggled or disguised in other backdrops.” And, not surprisingly for the star of “Brokeback Mountain,” dubbed the gay cowboy movie, he adds with a laugh: “I don’t really like conventional love stories. Can you tell?” Ledger is currently working on the Todd Hayne biopic on Bob Dylan, “I’m Not There,” in Montreal. Ledger plays Dylan during one period of his life; Williams also has a part in the film. It’s the second movie he’s made in Canada, and Ledger couldn’t be happier to be back filming here after his “Brokeback” experience in Alberta. “I absolutely love it. I love the people, I love everything about it here. I don’t know what it is about Australians and Canadians getting along so well but they do,” he says. “It seems like there’s the same sense of humour, very dry, and just a very modest society.” Nonetheless, Ledger says he’s anxious to get back to his simple and peaceful life in Brooklyn, raising his daughter – and don’t look to him to be pulling all-nighters on the film festival’s famous non-stop party circuit…” (No late-night partying for Heath Ledger)

bizarre behaviour after taking the drug – “…One night he took a sleeping pill, Ambien, to little effect. He took a second, slept for an hour, but then woke, his mind racing. “Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night,” Ledger told The New York Times. “I couldn’t stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going,” he said, while admitting he also “stressed out a little too much” about his role in the Bob Dylan film I’m Not There. Yesterday, the 28-year-old Australian film star was found dead, face-down and naked at the foot of his bed in his rented SoHo apartment in Manhattan. There were prescription drugs, including sleeping pills, by his bed. Only hours earlier, his Australian co-star in I’m Not There, Cate Blanchett, was nominated for two Academy Awards. Despite wide speculation about suicide, nobody yet knows what killed Ledger, or what part drugs played. In Perth, his family insisted the death was accidental. It is understood they will arrange for his body to be flown home where he will be laid to rest. Ambien is marketed in Australia as Stilnox, and has been linked with dangerous side effects. More than 500 people responded to a national drug reactions hotline last year, reporting bizarre behaviour after taking the drug. Two months ago, Australia’s medicines regulator ordered that packs of Stilnox carry warnings that the drug can cause people to walk, eat, drive or have sexual intercourse in their sleep. They now also warn Stilnox can cause rage reactions, confusion, agitation and hallucinations…” (The sleepless stress of a troubled star)

under attack from social conservatives and Christian fundamentalists – “…In Brokeback Mountain however he delivered one of the best performances of his career, quietly projecting the internal drama and tensions of his character without need of histrionics. He and Jake Gyllenhaal play two Wyoming cowboys, or rather shepherds, who are forced to spend long, boring days in each others’ company looking after sheep on the cold and lonely mountainside.
Many previous westerns had had a homoerotic undercurrent. Brokeback Mountain brought it to the surface, prompting protests in many parts of the US, where audiences preferred to keep such themes beneath the surface. The film came under attack from social conservatives and Christian fundamentalists. The furore was further fuelled when Ledger was quoted in an Australian paper as saying that the film faced a ban in West Virginia and that he was not surprised because lynchings had continued in the state right up until the 1980s. Ultimately the relationship and the story were not entirely convincing — against all expectations they failed to convince Oscar voters, who opted for Crash instead as their choice for best picture, but any failings were not the fault of the actors. Ledger was nominated for the Oscar for best actor but lost to Philip Seymour Hoffman for Capote. Reviewing the film for Rolling Stone magazine, Peter Travers said: “Ledger’s magnificent performance is an acting miracle. He seems to tear it from his insides. Ledger doesn’t just know how Ennis moves, speaks and listens; he knows how he breathes. To see him inhale the scent of a shirt hanging in Jack’s closet is to take measure of the pain of love lost…” (Heath Ledger: The Times obituary)

Heath Andrew Ledger (4 April 1979 – 22 January 2008) was an Australian television and film actor. After performing roles in Australian television and film during the 1990s, Ledger moved to the United States in 1998 to develop his film career. His work encompassed nineteen films, including 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), The Patriot (2000), Monster’s Ball (2001), A Knight’s Tale (2001), Brokeback Mountain (2005), and The Dark Knight (2008). In addition to his acting, he produced and directed music videos and aspired to be a film director. For his portrayal of Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain, Ledger won the 2005 New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor and the 2006 “Best Actor” award from the Australian Film Institute and was nominated for the 2005 Academy Award for Best Actor as well as the 2006 BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Posthumously he shared the 2007 Independent Spirit Robert Altman Award with the rest of the ensemble cast, the director, and the casting director for the film I’m Not There, which was inspired by the life and songs of American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. In the film, Ledger portrayed a fictional actor named Robbie Clark, one of six characters embodying aspects of Dylan’s life and persona. Ledger was nominated and won awards for his portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, a Best Actor International Award at the 2008 Australian Film Institute Awards, for which he became the first actor to win an award posthumously, the 2008 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor, the 2009 Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor and the 2009 BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor. Ledger died in January 2008, from an accidental “toxic combination of prescription drugs”. A few months before his death, Ledger had finished filming his penultimate performance, as the Joker in The Dark Knight, his death coming during editing of the film and casting a shadow over the subsequent promotion of the $180 million production. At the time of his death, on 22 January 2008, he had completed about half of his work performing the role of Tony in Terry Gilliam’s film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (Wikepedia).

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