Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Very sad news: Actor Heath Ledger Found Dead in NYC at Age 28

This was shocking news this afternoon.

"Australian-born actor Heath Ledger was found dead Tuesday at a downtown Manhattan apartment, naked in bed with sleeping pills nearby, police said. The Australian-born actor was 28. It wasn't immediately clear if Ledger had committed suicide. He had an appointment for a massage at a residence in the tony neighborhood of SoHo, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said. A housekeeper who went to let him know the massage therapist had arrived found him dead at 3:26 p.m...

"While not a marquee movie star, Ledger was a respected, award-winning actor who chose his roles carefully rather than cashing in on his heartthrob looks. He was nominated for an Oscar for his performance as a gay cowboy in Brokeback Mountain, where he met Michelle Williams, who played his wife in the film. The two had a daughter, Matilda, and lived together in Brooklyn until they split up last year."

Like many gay men, Ledger's break-out film Brokeback Mountain continues to hold a very special place in my heart. No gay-themed film reached as wide an audience as that 2005 flick, won as much world-wide acclaim, winning eight Oscar nods including Best Picture and Best Actor for Ledger. I still think it was robbed of the Best Pic win by Paul Haggis' decent but average Crash.

Much of Brokeback's success was due to Ledger's note perfect lead performance. He played the tortured closet case Ennis del Mar in love with Jake Gyllenhaal's Jack Twist. As a gay man, Ledger's portrayal resonated with me greatly and brought me to tears by the end of the film. In many ways, the character represented the embodiment of shame and self-hate, a product of his traditional, American, cowboy culture.

Although the beautiful actor starred in many feature films over the last 10 years, I continue to believe Ledger's achievement in Brokeback will be watched and admired for years to come as a landmark in acting.

Very, very tragic.

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