Ledger's real loves

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Ledger's real loves

Post  Admin on Sat Mar 08, 2008 4:21 pm

Ledger's real loves

The world talks about gay scenes, but Heath Ledger tells Christine Sams about his girls.

When Heath Ledger sat down to watch his performance in Brokeback Mountain for the first time, he was in a cinema alone with his girlfriend (and co-star) Michelle Williams.

"It was just the two of us," Ledger says. "Once the film was over we really were unsure about what we'd just seen. We weren't sure whether it was brilliant or whether it was terrible.

"But we were sure about each other's performance, we were like, 'You were great', 'No, you were great' . . . and kind of threw compliments back and forth to each other, but we couldn't recognise ourselves in the film. I think that's just part of who Michelle and I are - we're very similar that way. Watching ourselves is just impossible."

Ledger and Williams might find it difficult to see themselves on screen, but filmgoers, critics and celebrity-spotters all over the world are watching the couple with keen eyes. Apart from the extraordinary buzz surrounding Brokeback Mountain, which has earned Ledger and Williams Golden Globe nominations, the film has propelled the star couple straight into Hollywood's A-list.

Not that 26-year-old Ledger, who is surprisingly shy and sensitive in conversation, is succumbing to the pressures of Hollywood's spotlight. Instead he is celebrating the impact that Brokeback Mountain has had on his own life - meeting Williams and the subsequent arrival of their baby daughter Matilda in October.

"It's a trip. It's incredible to what level the film has changed my life," he says, chatting to S inside Sydney's Park Hyatt Hotel on Friday. "I mean, it's given me an incredible amount of synchronicity. I have these two girls that I fall deeper and deeper in love with daily and that is, hands down, the greatest gift that I've been given from this. I'll forever be grateful."

Ledger is so besotted, he hardly needs prompting to talk about his love for Williams. "She is beautiful, she's gorgeous and I'm so proud of her in this film. She is an incredibly talented actor and she really shines in this movie - I think she gives the best performance in the film. I'm incredibly proud of her."

To say the Australian actor is a changed man is an understatement. Gone is the surly, somewhat verbally combative youngster who launched himself into Hollywood with Mel Gibson's The Patriot. Ledger seems calmer, and somehow more openly nervous and vulnerable, as he grapples with the question of juggling fame and fatherhood.

"I think you have a certain level of responsibility to 'man-up' so to speak," he says, with a smile. "Fatherhood or parenthood is ultimately the most selfless act you can participate in, so in order to be so selfless you have to be healthy minded and healthy spirited in order to focus in wholly on this other person and making them happy and safer. So you're forced into ironing out any kinks.
"That's certainly the way I'm approaching parenthood. I'm not sure if it's the right way, it's just my way."

As for coping with celebrity coupledom, Ledger got his first taste of the pressures involved during his high-profile romance with actor Naomi Watts. Back then, he was highly reluctant to speak about his personal life. But Ledger says he's changed his mind - and his behaviour towards the media (even when provoked) - because he wants to protect his family.

"I'm feeling the need to explain myself clearly these days, as opposed to the past when I was more protective and deflective and defensive about my private life . . . because that just gave everyone else the opportunity to fabricate their own answers to who I am and what my life is.

"Now I've brought this very special child into my life and I have this very special girl in my life, I don't want them to be misrepresented or my love for them to be misrepresented either," he says. "I'd rather explain the way it really is than let other people guess."

The irony of Brokeback Mountain is that Ledger plays Ennis Del Mar, a cowboy who fears exposing his deep love for Jack Twist (played by Jake Gyllenhaal), because it is a gay relationship. In real-life, Ledger and Williams are facing the opposite situation: trying to reduce the public exposure of their very personal love story.

The couple have already decided on tactics to keep baby Matilda calm whenever they are in a high-pressure situation involving paparazzi or other media. But Ledger seems pleased his baby is still too young to understand her parents' fame.

"At this point she has no idea what a film is," he says, laughing. "And at this point it's about trying to leave her in the dark. Like, if we're out somewhere and there's a camera, trying not to whip her away; trying not to let our anxiety and our panic merge into her. It's important, we're just trying to breathe and keep her relaxed and keep her unaware of anything uncomfortable in our lives, because it's unfair for that to affect her."

Ledger says that since making the film and meeting Williams he has simply learnt to deal with the pressures and enjoy his own life.

"It could [worry me] but I'm not letting it any more. Because it's only exhausting if you walk around worrying about it, because it doesn't go away, unfortunately. So you just learn to deal with it, relax with it, be more diplomatic about it and then hopefully it will relieve you of that stress. Which it has, because I care less about it now and care more about just being happy with my own family."

Ledger's open belief in the transformative power of love is reflected in his role in Brokeback Mountain. During early screenings of the film in Sydney people could be heard openly sobbing at the heartache portrayed on screen.

"I think that's the good thing about the film: it is representing love between two men and portraying it in a way that it's on par with love between men and women - it's the same thing," Ledger says. "We're showing that it is real - the level of intimacy, the level of emotional commitment and heartache is just the same.

"For that reason, people should understand that [being gay] is not in fact a virus or a plague or something that can be cured, it is something within, something innate. That it exists and that it's real. I think that's what a lot of people are getting out of it, just a better understanding of that."

Ledger says he is saddened and disappointed that some people are opposed to the notion of a gay romance being screened in mainstream cinemas.

"I guess it's disappointing for me to hear that there are so many people in this world that go out of their way to protest and voice their outrage and disgust concerning how two people choose to love each other. It just doesn't make sense to me. I feel like it's really unnecessary and really immature. I feel like these people have way too much time on their hands and they need to take up a hobby of some sort. Perhaps they should focus that energy into protesting [against] the ways in which we choose to express anger and violence. I think that's a lot more important than making it hard for these people to love each other."

As for his own real-life love story, Ledger says he will particularly enjoy attending the Golden Globes (on Tuesday, Australian time) because he and Williams are both nominated. "I'm happy to turn up, I'm very proud of Michelle," he says. "You can't help but get excited because it is an exciting time. It's just kind of cute for us that we get to do it together."

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Rest In Peace Heath Ledger
1979-2008
You will be Never forgotten

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