One thing that strikes me about Heath Ledger’s passing is that I have not seen him in that many films. I recall watching Monster’s Ball, Brokeback Mountain, Casanova and I’m Not There. The strength of the performances of just these films is enough to have been stunned by his death. Nothing’s more tragic than the loss of the performances that could have been even more than the ones he left behind.
That’s what to me is so sad about this death. You knew his performances could be transcendent as they were in Monster’s Ball and Brokeback Mountain. He played characters in both these films that called for our sense of decency and humanity, and showed the devastation when those calls go unheeded.
But he was, of course, able to extend his range by playing a lovable cad like Casanova or the unpleasant side of Bob Dylan in I’m Not There (by the way, Cate Blanchett might have been spot on with her portrayal, but let’s face it, Ledger had to show more range).
He’ll forever be remembered for portraying Ennis Del Mar, the gay sheepherder who eventually felt the loneliness of being in a society that couldn’t accept him the way he was. That loneliness was what everyone could associate with, even if they could not handle the gay issue. Hoffman may have been great as Capote, but Ledger’s performance hit me in the gut. His acting is the stuff of legend, and folks know it. That’s why Daniel Day-Lewis broke down in a recent interview when talking about Ledger, even though he didn’t know him. He brought up the loss of what could have been. What could have been….