Five minutes with Heath Ledger

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Five minutes with Heath Ledger

Post  Admin on Sat Mar 08, 2008 4:42 pm

Five minutes with Heath Ledger
By AMY LONGSDORF

Heath Ledger has played his share of offbeat roles. He was a sensitive prison guard in "Monster's Ball," a gay cowboy in "Brokeback Mountain," a sweet-natured junkie in "Candy" and a likeable ladykiller in "Casanova."
But with "I'm Not There," a mind-bender of a Dylan biopic, Hedger has the trickiest assignment of his career.

In the movie, which was directed by Todd Haynes, Ledger embodies an actor who's become famous for portraying a rock icon patterned after Bob Dylan. If that wasn't confusing enough, Ledger is only one of a handful of actors to play a Dylan-inspired role. Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Richard Gere also play characters based on the folk legend.

While Ledger is close-lipped about his personal life - he recently split up with actress Michelle Williams, who appears briefly in "I'm Not There" and with whom he has a 2-year-old daughter named Matilda - he's more than happy to sing the praises of the year's trippiest biopic.

Impulse: On paper, "I'm Not There" sounds confusing. Any advice for potential filmgoers?

Ledger: I don't think you need to be a Dylan genius in order to appreciate it as a story or a film or an experience. It's a film, it's not a quiz. There is no Q&A afterwards. Quite frankly, the less you know about Dylan, the better off you are going to be. Trust me, you're not going to be straining yourself, trying to digest every single line of dialogue. You just kind of strap yourself in and enjoy the ride.

Impulse: In your segment, you play a version of Dylan during the '70s when he was separating from his wife. Did you try and dissect his personal life at all?

Ledger: I don't know. Essentially Todd kind of dissected Bob and I was like an amputated limb. I was just concentrating on one arm of Bob Dylan, essentially. Likewise, Todd kind of dissected the script too, and handed us all little short films. We just concentrated on our individual stories. At the end of the day, what did I learn more about Bob? I don't know.

Impulse: It sounds like you didn't want to solve the mystery of Dylan.

Ledger: Exactly. I read the books. I watched the documentaries. And my catalogue of Dylan's music expanded. But I think the beauty of Todd's film is that I can't tell you that I know anything more about Bob Dylan than you do. I think that's what is beautiful about the movie. Todd attempted to respectfully preserve Bob Dylan's mystique. He's kept him in the shadows still.

Impulse: I know you're a music junkie. What does music add to your life?

Ledger: Oh gosh, where do I start with the music? I mean, on so many levels it has affected my life, and still continues to. I guess one example is that to me music, particularly the voice singing, is such a pure expression from the soul. It deeply connects to mine. Music has always been a key for me to express anger or pain.

Impulse: How big of a Dylan fan were you before you began?

Ledger: I was definitely a fan of Dylan. I think Dylan was definitely someone who I had scheduled somewhat, in the future, to become obsessed by. I do get obsessed with people, especially musicians and artists. I think that Todd prematurely invited me into this obsession, on this film.

Impulse: In the film, your character struggles with finding a way to balance his career with his personal life. Did you identify?

Ledger: Anyone who works in this industry, in movies, certainly feels like they live a gypsy-type lifestyle. So, I can certainly relate to that. I can relate to the struggling he's going through, trying to keep consistency with his family life, his social life, and his professional life. [Work] is both an annoyance, and an addiction.

Impulse: Who was your favorite Dylan in the film?

Ledger: I really have to say everyone. Marcus [Carl Franklin] was truly phenomenal. Richard [Gere] was a surprise. Christian [Bale] was great. And obviously Cate [Blanchett.] I ran into her on her last day, and we kind of tagged each other. She walked, talked, and smelled like Dylan. I walked away thinking, 'Oh God.' Everybody is great in the movie but me. I sucked.

Impulse: If you could play another musical figure, who would it be?

Ledger: Tina Turner. [laughs] No one else springs to mind.

Impulse: Next up for you is "The Dark Knight." Was it intimidating stepping into Jack Nicholson's Joker shoes?

Ledger: Well, I was definitely a fan of what Jack Nicholson did for Tim Burton. If Tim Burton had been directing 'The Dark Knight,' I would have said no because I couldn't reproduce what Jack did. But the reason why I confidently stepped into the Joker's shoes was because I had seen what [director] Chris [Nolan] had done with 'Batman Begins'. He created a different world. I knew that there was a different angle to be taken on the Joker.

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

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