Written by: Ron Bricker
By now, almost everyone has heard about the death of 28-year-old actor Heath Ledger. I found out after a frustratingly long day, and the news that we had lost someone so young and with so much potential caught me completely off guard, even though I can't claim to be a huge fan. Nonetheless, I've been eagerly anticipating The Dark Knight just like everyone else.
The most tragic thing about this is Ledger's potential. He'd given great performances throughout his career, starting with his breakout role in the Shakespearean update 10 Things I Hate About You, which gave many a teenage guy on a date a relieved feeling of "That wasn't such a bad chick-flick, was it?" He played a convincing American Revolutionary soldier (with a grudge) in The Patriot.
Of course, a lot of us can't help wondering how Ledger's death will affect the upcoming Batman sequel, The Dark Knight – even if such speculation makes us feel guilty. Will his death alter the movie's marketing? What will the press junket be like? The man had a two-year-old daughter, for goodness' sake. I don't think I'll be able to avoid thinking of her when I go to see it. Should guilt prevent us from going to see a huge blockbuster?
No, it shouldn't.
We connected to Ledger through his performances, and while we offer his family condolences and privacy, we should continue to appreciate his onscreen work, even as we wonder if this tragedy will adversely affect the fate of what might be the best entry in a blockbuster franchise. We can only hope, of course, that it can't.
That said, I have a confession: Other than Brokeback Mountain, I haven't seen Ledger in much else. I now consider this, even more so than before, to be a huge disappointment.
So I plan to take the time to look back at Ledger's career, including his lesser-known work. Unfortunately, this is all we will have of him, forever. He had currently been filming a role for Terry Gilliam, whom he worked with in The Brothers Grimm, a maddening but mildly amusing take on Grimm's fairy tales. Hopefully his final role won't be as strange an endeavor. Such a small and eccentric resume must necessarily have its ups and downs. Now, all we can do is wonder what his future ups and downs would have been. Another Batman movie? Another Terry Gilliam project? I wish we knew.
Regardless, we will all line up to see The Dark Knight on its first weekend of release. Expectations are still high based on the trailer alone, and hopefully everyone judges it based on his performance and the talent he had, not on or giving any sort of glorification due to, his death. Ledger's talent was undeniable, albeit underrated and just waiting to skyrocket. Unfortunate without a doubt, and all we can do as we sit speechless is offer the best to his family and friends during their difficult time.