Ledger finds balance at own pace

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Ledger finds balance at own pace

Post  Admin on Sun Mar 09, 2008 2:42 pm

Ledger finds balance at own pace

PETER HOWELL
MOVIE CRITIC


There seems to be no danger of the phenomenal success of Brokeback Mountain going to Heath Ledger's head.

The gangly Aussie actor doesn't set high expectations for himself, so his Oscar nomination for playing closeted cowboy Ennis Del Mar is being treated like a bonus for a job well done, rather than his just dues.

"My expectations are always very low about how movies that I'm in are going to be received," Ledger said last night, relaxing in a hotel suite after arriving in Toronto from Montreal.

"It was a really pleasant surprise."

The role has opened doors for him. The 27-year-old Ledger had been marked early in his career for heartthrob and action hero roles, in movies like A Knight's Tale (2001) and The Four Feathers (2002).

They didn't sit well with him but the experiences led to the first of what he calls multiple epiphanies as to how he really wants his career to go, seeking more challenging and interesting roles.

He's been in Montreal preparing for next week's start of shooting of his segment of I'm Not There, Todd Haynes' unusual Bob Dylan biopic that's based on artistic impressions of the rock legend. Also in the film is Michelle Williams, Ledger's spouse, and their fellow Aussie Cate Blanchett, who also plays a version of Dylan.

After that Ledger will stretch even further, playing the villainous joker in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, another vision of the Batman story.

But right now he's talking about Candy, a film in the Toronto festival directed by Australia's Neil Armfield, in which Ledger plays a junkie poet heading into a skid alongside his devoted girlfriend Candy, played by Abbie Cornish:

QOne of the hardest parts of being an actor is fighting against what people want you to be as opposed to what you want to be. How have you found it that way?

AYeah! It's a struggle with artists in general, conforming to commerce and people's expectations and opinions. I definitely try to stay true to what pleases me and what's going to give me growth. I try.

QDid you have any epiphany where you said, "I'm going to start taking control of my life and do the roles I want to?"

AI did, actually. I've had a couple of them. It was right around the time when I was doing A Knight's Tale and my face was on the posters and it was also a little frustrating for me because I felt like people were able to see my performance when I didn't feel like it was ready to be seen. It felt like I was being pushed out in such a massive way at a time when I didn't really know what I was doing.

That was one epiphany, to put the brakes on. And I also felt my career was being handed to me on a platter and I didn't feel I deserved it. I decided to stamp it out a little bit, and put it in reverse, and see if I could start from scratch.

QWhat was your second epiphany?

AIt was very similar to the first, and the second and the third ... and I continue to have them. They're all based around striving to be true to myself. To be true to humanity and try to tell stories about people, not to just be part of a plot or an advertisement campaign.

QYour character of Dan in Candy is amazing. Did you base him on any other character you've seen, oranybody you knew?

ADan was inspired by Luke Davies, the author of the book Candy and the co-screenwriter of the film. He was a drug addict for a period of time in his life. He was around on the set all the time to prep us on how to operate. I was so excited to be working with my own accent again that I thought that would bring enough of the character. It had been eight years since I used my own accent (in a movie).

QAbbie Cornish and you work together very well as the couple.

AYes, she's a very explosive, instinctual and exciting actor to work with. I've never really worked with anyone who can go from zero to 60 in one second. She quite actually goes from just relaxing and talking and mucking around to that birthing scene. Just in two seconds flat.

QThat's a tough scene, the baby one. It's going to upset some viewers. It upset me watching it.

AIt's a pretty heavy scene. I actually found out four weeks before that Michelle and I were having a baby. It wasn't the nicest of scenes to be playing.

QI guess everybody asks you this, but have you ever had experience with drugs?

AYeah, but not heroin. Not heavy drugs like that. I've smoked pot and I know what it's like to be high. The only thing I've been addicted to is cigarettes.

QCan you tell me about playing Bob Dylan and working with Todd Haynes in I'm Not There?

AI'm one of about seven people who are kind of playing him. I'm actually playing an actor who plays in a movie as a character, and his character is a Bob Dylanesque kind of guy played by Christian Bale. So I'm kind of playing Christian Bale, who's not playing Bob Dylan. Michelle is actually working on it, as well. She's shooting as we speak. And I saw Cate Blanchett the other day on set and it's just striking. She looks like Bob Dylan, from a distance. It's really quite remarkable.

Todd is an exciting filmmaker. And everyone I've spoken with so far has said that he's a genius and it's the most creative process they've all been a part of. I'm really excited about it. I start on Tuesday. I've just been rehearsing by myself in Montreal, working on accents. I have to come up with two accents: I have my character and his character's accent.

QHow about playing the Joker in The Dark Knight? I have to admit, I would never have thought of you for the role.

AI wouldn't have thought of me, either. But it's obviously not going to be what Jack Nicholson did. It's going to be more nuanced and dark and more along the lines of a Clockwork Orange kind of feel. Which is, I think, what the comic book was after: less about his laugh and more about his eyes.

QDo you think that playing the difficult role of Ennis in Brokeback Mountain made people view you in a different light?

ADefinitely. It really opened a lot of doors. Since those doors have been opened, Todd Haynes' film and the Joker are really the only two things I've reaped from it, but it's been good.
~source: TorontoStar

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

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