Thoughts on a true talent lost

As a self-confessed entertainment commentator, I suppose I should allow myself a few paragraphs devoted to the passing of actor Heath Ledger, who was, as you all know, found dead this past Tuesday in his Manhattan apartment. The 28-year-old actor's untimely and unexpected death was a hefty shock to the entertainment world.

Many lament at his passing and recall the films he's done. They remember the good looks and barely-there smirk that won him fame in 10 Things I Hate About You, his intensity and screen presence in The Patriot and The Four Feathers or the pure, classic talent with which he commanded his roles in Monster's Ball, Brokeback Mountain and I'm Not There. But me? Well, I lament and pine for the films that never will be.

I wonder what he could have been at 30, 40 and 50. Wonder how many times he would find himself a contender for acting Oscars. Wonder what he could manage in the director's chair or at the typewriter. Like James Dean or River Phoenix before him, Ledger was a bright candle snuffed too early. He worked in film only a decade, with a scant 19 films to his credit.

The truest and most grievous loss of all is to have this young talent, who certainly proved himself more than capable in 2005's Brokeback Mountain, taken during his prime. Ledger was a wonderful actor, always reaching for the different and the odd, never allowing himself to be typecast. He avoided a teen-idol phase, hitting the scene at 19, and chose projects carefully. And though he was involved in some questionable films (The Brothers Grimm, for one), Ledger defied his leading man looks and took to brooding, dark characters.

I don't think any of us will ever know what Ledger, as an actor, was truly capable of. We might see hints of it in The Dark Knight. But for now, we must deal with the loss of potential. And come July, I will line up eagerly with the rest of you to see Ledger in the last, and possibly greatest, role of his young life.


  1. Very well put. I heard rumors that he had been shadowing Terry Gilliam and preparing to do his directorial debut... it really is sad to think of all the great movies he could've been a part of.

  2. Yeah, he had a supporting role in Gilliam's next film. It's really sad to know he had bigger things on the horizon. Definitely debunks the notion of suicide.

  3. That's very sad to see, like you Matt, Im saddened (besides the obvious loss of his life) by the fact that we'll never see what could have been. It's a shame and I dont really know what else to say.


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