The Ledger tribute

A lot of times, when someone passes away, particularly someone "famous" who we didn't really know on a personal level, but who touched us artistically or even on a human level, we don't know how to react, what to say, what to do, etc... I remember when legendary director Stanley Kubrick died back in 1999, and I just felt "numb". As a major movie fan, I had always been entranced by his films, and just the fact that he was no longer among us, just saddened me to no end. Apparently many others felt the same way, as I posted a Stanley Kubrick Tribute page up at that time, which to this day, still receives entries from people from all over the world.

With the passing of actor Heath Ledger on Tuesday afternoon, we all at JoBlo.com were deeply affected, as many of our readers, and we figured that one of the ways to outsource that sadness was to put together a tribute to the actor, whom many of us believed to be one of the finest of his generation. I emailed our staff and asked them to name their favorite Ledger film, as well as their thoughts on his career. Of course, all of you are more than welcome to chime in with your own tributes below. Needless to say, our thoughts and prayers go out to Heath's family and his 2-year old daughter at this very difficult time. PS: Note how almost every member of our staff chose different films of his without each others' knowledge. Another tribute to the actor's impressive diversity and success in his various roles.


JASON ADAMS: While not his best performance, Ledger's supporting turn in LORDS OF DOGTOWN as skater/entrepreneur Skip Engblom has always stuck with me. It was fun, better than anything else in that movie, and different than anything else I'd seen him in.

Who knew that the guy I secretly did /not/ hate in 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU would turn out to be one of the most exciting prospects in Hollywood. And I don't just say this because of his ostensibly electric upcoming performance in THE DARK KNIGHT. After seeing 2006's CANDY (in which he played a doomed drug addict) it was obvious Ledger was an actor with serious talent and demonstrated range, who was just starting a career more concerned with selecting good, challenging roles and not obvious superstardom. My condolences to his family, friends and fans, who've all been robbed of many great future performances from a gifted actor.

THE ARROW: I got to "really" appreciate Heath Ledger's talent via his comedic display in THE BROTHERS GRIMM and his poignant performance in BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. Both films made me take notice of him, he came into his own with them in my opinion. I can't wait to see what he does with The Joker!

On a whole I've always liked Heath Ledger, even though I've only seen five films of his. There was an affable quality about him both on and off-screen that always appealed to me. Such a shame he had to leave us so soon, the lad was just starting to show us what he could "really do" acting wise. RIP.

BEN BARNA: It's a strange thing, to feel the loss of a man you've never met. I'm sorry that Heath Ledger is no longer with us. We're blessed that he's left us with one final performance that will deepen the engraving of his name on the wall of movie history.

NICK BOSWORTH: I've always been a big fan of Heath's work as an actor and that all began with a film called THE PATRIOT which was released back in 2000. It remains as my favorite Heath Ledger film because his natural abilities as an actor were so apparent whenever he had to stand up against Mel Gibson's character throughout the film. From that moment on, I knew we'd see great things from him.

I've always read terrific things about Heath, whether they came from his family or co-stars. He never let his talents or career blind him in the pursuit to become a good father, husband or a positive influence wherever he went. His career had blossomed for years and was only getting better with each performance. The loss that his fans have suffered including myself is a terrible one and I feel that we have all been robbed of something very special. Rest well my friend and remember that all of us are very proud of you.

JIMMYO: This was really hard to write and I don't know why. Heath Ledger's death is a sad, sad, tragic thing. He was fast becoming a major force in the film world. His quietly powerful work in BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN seemed to be only the beginning. And much has been said of the work he completed in THE DARK NIGHT. So it is a shame that we will not be able to see him grow as an actor and most importantly, as a father. My thoughts go out to his family and especially to his little girl, Matilda. I hope that Michelle and her daughter are able to mourn in private and be given room to heal.

JOBLO: I always liked Ledger's performances in such films as 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU and A KNIGHT'S TALE, but I thought it was his small but pivotal role in MONSTER'S BALL that really made me see him as the well-rounded actor that he turned out to be. If you haven't seen the film, rent it for his performance alone.

Heath Ledger's untimely death reminds me a lot of how I felt when Brandon Lee and River Phoenix were taken away from this world years before their time, and there's no real words to describe it. It's really just a sad, sad, thing. You look back at all of his performances with a greater sense of fragility and meaning, while at the same time, enjoying the life and depth that he brought to many of his roles. His turn as the Joker in this summer's DARK KNIGHT looks like it's gonna be out of this world, and sadly, we will never know what further greatness could have come out of his artistic soul. We will miss you, Heath...rest in peace.

JENNY KARAKAYA: My favorite Ledger movie is CANDY. It's a tragically beautiful film in which he showcases enormous comedic and dramatic talent. 

I'm sincerely saddened to see the film industry lose such an incredibly talented, kind and grounded man. Ledger had great potential to be become one of, if not already, Hollywood's best. 
I'm am grateful to have met him in his much too short lived life.

ALEX KEEN: My favorite Ledger movie is 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU. I remember seeing the trailer for this movie and the guy just jumped off the screen. It is really hard to deliver in the midst of such an artificial genre and Heath did so with gusto. This movie still ranks as one of my favorite teen movies and Heath's performance took this movie to the next level. The guy had charisma and a swagger that is impossible to replicate. He will be greatly missed. :(

ANDRE MANSEAU: My favorite Heath Ledger film was likely THE BROTHERS GRIMM. It wasn't a great movie but I'm a fan of Terry Gilliam and liked the idea of all the film could've been. Both Ledger and co-star Matt Damon gave the role their all and the film was different for Heath. Despite not having had a long career, Ledger proved himself to be a versatile performer who could really ease his way into his characters. From A KNIGHT'S TALE to the critically acclaimed BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, Heath really came a long way.

The news of Heath's passing comes on the forefront if arguably his most anticipated and undoubtedly his biggest film ever, THE DARK KNIGHT. He was ready garnering a lot of praise for his portrayal of the Joker, and I have no doubt that millions will turn out to see the young actor's final endeavor. As the details of this shocking event unfold, please keep Ledger's family in your thoughts or prayers- even "stars" feel sorrow during times like this. Let us all hope that this is the only Hollywood tragedy we face this year.

JOHNNY MORENO: Favorite film: 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU. Hands down. I'm a huge fan of his and there's no doubting Heath made much better movies (that I'm also a big fan of ) but for me the movie captures a point in time I like to reflect on.

Thoughts: Some you see coming (Anna Nicole). Some you kind of see coming (Brad Renfro). Some you never see coming. What makes this different is how you were blindsided by the news. Then come the allegations and speculation of what led up to it and how it might've happened and...as a fan, I'm not even sure if it really matters at this point. It's just a shame it had to happen to someone with such potential; a great talent who parlayed good role after good role. All I can think is, "Shit. Another one gone too soon." RIP Heath. My heartfelt thoughts to you, your family and most of all your little girl.

DAVE MURRAY: I thought he was great in A KNIGHT'S TALE, even though a lot of people crap all over that one, but for me it was a hell of a lot of fun. Both Ledger and the filmmakers never took themselves seriously. Hell I even liked him in the crappy TV series Roar! But my favorite would have to be THE BROTHERS GRIMM, just because it was Terry Gilliam and such a messed up movie, and also because Ledger and Damon were awesome in it. The guy had talent, charm, and a killer smile. What more could you want from a leading man?

Despite his fame, he was just starting to show us what he was capable of. With looks to spare and enough acting talent to become one of the greats of his generation, his death is a blow to movies in general, and to genre movies in particular. His turn as the Joker will no doubt be brilliant, a violent force of nature that shows us just what this amazing young talent brought to the game, and also what he could have been in years to come. His is an impressive body of work, but it still feels like it's not enough. He was another great talent gone before his time, and personally I feel sad for his daughter. Let's watch his crazy ass take on the Joker and remember him fondly.

JARED PACHECO: It's hard to pick a favorite Heath Ledger movie because in my eyes he was great in everything. From 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU to A KNIGHT'S TALE to LORDS OF DOGTOWN to THE BROTHERS GRIMM. If I had to choose, I'd say I enjoyed KNIGHT'S TALE the most.

Heath Ledger has been one of my favorite actors for a while. The man was just brilliant. He chose his roles carefully and nixed any ones he didn't feel he liked. And he always nailed the performance. From his character roles in LORDS OF DOGTOWN and BROTHERS GRIMM to the upcoming DARK KNIGHT, it seemed like Ledger could do it all. He always put his all into a role and was destined to be a great in the business (in my eyes he was already one.). That's the type of actors you want to see making movies. The guys that love making them as much as we love watching them. A guy with so much ahead of him being taken this early in his life is tragic. I was shocked the second I heard and I'm still shocked, not sure if it will ever settle in. Rest in Piece Heath, you will most certainly be missed. Thank you.

MATHEW PLALE: Heath Ledger, whether he could have known it or not, was at his best in last year's I'M NOT THERE as movie-star Bob Dylan. I say it's his best because it was his most honest--he was Dylan just as much as Ledger--the stardom, the paparazzi, the heartbreak, they're all there.

Ledger could be, at the same time, a heartthrob and a talent. He was unfortunately seen as merely one or the other to those wearing an eye-patch, but his combined disheveled sexiness and insistence on individuality in his roles will keep Ledger in our minds as one of the great, lost young talents. He'll certainly be missed.

ADAM QUIGLEY: My favorite of his films A KNIGHT'S TALE - First time I saw this flick, I remember thinking to myself, "Well, this is kind of stupid, but that Heath guy really knows how to carry a picture!" It was the first time I took notice of the actor. Ever since then, no matter how good or bad the actual film at hand, Heath Ledger's performances have remained a bright spot in my movie-watching world.

People die every day. That's life. So is it really such a tragic loss when, out of the thousands of deaths that occur daily, 1 celebrity passes on? Well, when that one celebrity happens to be Heath Ledger, the answer is "yes". In the same way that somebody would feel sorrow if a friend were to die, many of us had come to know and love Ledger both as an actor and a person, even if he didn't know any of us. His on-screen talent was undeniable, and it was clear through his interviews that he was an all-around cool guy. Personally, and admittedly rather selfishly, I'm just glad he was able to finish filming THE DARK KNIGHT, because his performance in that will likely be what he's remembered for... It will be his legacy... His masterpiece. RIP, buddy. Best wishes to your family and friends.

MIKE SAMPSON: I was never a particular fan of Heath Ledger's work. Perhaps it's because my wife insisted of putting on 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU whenever it was on TV and that movie drove me crazy. I was underwhelmed by A KNIGHT'S TALE and THE PATRIOT. And then I saw BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. While I didn't think the movie was as fantastic as many made it out to be, I was completely floored by Ledger's performance. An absolute masterstroke of acting. He was flat-out perfect as the tortured Ennis Del Mar. "Good Jesus, I had it all wrong about this kid," I thought afterwards. I later caught MONSTER'S BALL, LORDS OF DOGTOWN and I'M NOT THERE and was extremely impressed with his range. His role as The Joker in THE DARK KNIGHT would have catapulted him into a new level of stardom and it couldn't have been more deserved. 

That's the sadness I'll feel as a fan of his acting. But as a father myself, I hurt more for his young daughter. Acting is a job just like writing for JoBlo.com, performing surgery or taking out the trash. But the real tragedy is that a beautiful little girl will grow up not knowing her father. And that's a real sadness.

JAMES THOO: Favorite Ledger movie? God, I'd love to say THE DARK KNIGHT, and I'm sure that if I were to write this later in the year I would, but for the time being it'll have to be A KNIGHT'S TALE. That movie is just about Heath Ledger feeling like he could be awesome if he got a chance, and then spending an hour and a half being awesome. It's about as historically accurate as Shia Labeouf's grandfather finding Megatron in the Polar ice caps, but you don't care because Ledger is just so good.

If I'm honest, before this happened I would never have said Heath Ledger was one of my favorite actors, but now, I don't know why not. I loved him in 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU and then in pretty much everything else I saw him in after that. What sticks in my mind about him now, is that on the two occasions I saw him recently, in I'M NOT THERE, and the trailer for THE DARK KNIGHT, I've seen what I remember him for: just being a fun fucking guy. It's the scene in I'M NOT THERE when he tries to ride the motor-cycle, cheerfully grins back and then drives straight into the wall. It's the scene in THE DARK KNIGHT when he shoots the bazooka off like he has not a clue what the hell he's doing. I know they're probably character nuances, because the man was such a wonderful actor, but I'm sure that they were inherent in him too.

SCOTT WEINBERG: Believe it or not, my favorite Heath Ledger performance was his lead role in CASANOVA. It may have been a slight little trifle of a movie, but Ledger shows a lot of charm and good humor in that film. All I can say about his passing is that my heart goes out to his friends and family -- especially his two-year-old daughter.

MATT WITHERS: A KNIGHT'S TALE - I usually prefer darker fare, but this flick was good, goofy fun with plenty to enjoy for the mates and the sheilas.

As much as I felt like BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN was an overhyped pile of steaming shite, you can't get past the fact that this tough, young aussie faced massive career and personal risk head on by playing a gay cowboy. That's "A Boy Named Sue" tough, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out Johnny Cash is patting him on the back right now.

Source: JoBlo.com



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