Heath Ledger passed away today at the age of 28.
Anyone who’s read this site for any amount of time knows that Heath Ledger was discussed more than any other subject here, due to my excitement over his portrayal of The Joker in this summer’s new Batman film, The Dark Knight. More people have come here to read about Ledger as The Joker than any other thing I’ve ever written about, and I wish there was some way I could tell him that so that he’d know how many people he touched and inspired with his work over the years.
Ledger’s Joker casting was one of the greatest blind-sides in film history. Numerous actors had been aggressively rumored to be up for the part, but no one had heard a word about Ledger. When the announcement broke, the fans were in shock.
And from day one I loved it, because no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t picture Heath as The Joker. That’s why it was so brilliant and so perfect — I knew it would be something different, something special and something unexpected.
Director Christopher Nolan hired Ledger “because he was fearless,” and Ledger’s dedication to the role sent my excitement into orbit when I saw finally saw him in action in the trailer, which you can view here.
You’ll see Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Morgan Freeman in the trailer, but you won’t see Heath Ledger. There’s only The Joker. I’ve rarely seen an actor disappear so completely into a part that there’s not even a single trace left of him.
So Heath, wherever you are, thank you for always giving me something to look forward to. Thank you for sharing your talent with us, and please know that your work was loved and that it will be seen and admired forever.
Peace be with you, man. We’re lucky to have known you as long as we did.