'Batman' Director Pays Moving Tribute To Heath Ledger
First Published: January 28, 2008 5:26 PM EST Credit: Warner Bros.
NEW YORK, N.Y. -- The death of Heath Ledger has hit Hollywood hard.
The loss of the 28-year-old Aussie has affected so many — from well-respected actors like Daniel Day-Lewis (who never knew Ledger), to friends including Mary-Kate Olsen and even ordinary people.
Now, Christopher Nolan, who directed Ledger in the latest installment of the "Batman" series, "The Dark Knight," which is due for release this coming summer, has spoken out with his pen, offering a poetic and touching insight that pays tribute to Ledger and his immense talents.
Ledger had "real charisma," Nolan wrote for Newsweek, "as invisible and natural as gravity."
Beyond his infectious nature that caused crew members on "The Dark Knight" set to copy Ledger's skateboarding Joker character, by bringing their own boards to the set daily, the actor was always buzzing.
"Heath was bursting with creativity. It was in his every gesture," Nolan wrote in the article. "He once told me that he liked to wait between jobs until he was creatively hungry. Until he needed it again. He brought that attitude to our set every day. There aren't many actors who can make you feel ashamed of how often you complain about doing the best job in the world. Heath was one of them."
Nolan recounted of how on one occasion, when they were shooting a particularly difficult scene, Ledger wanted to work late to capture a moment. The crew stayed, despite the extra time, and according to Nolan: "Months later, I learned that as Heath left the set that night, he quietly thanked each crew member for working late. Quietly. Not trying to make a point, just grateful for the chance to create that they'd given him."
Nolan's perspective of Ledger, one of a hugely admiring co-worker, offers a sentimental glimpse at the late actor's talent and dedication and the respect that Hollywood gave him.
Not only did Ledger visit the set to learn and experience things when filming didn't require his presence, but Nolan learned that the actor was juggling many plates - including working on his own projects.
"He'd brought his laptop along in the car, and we had a high-speed screening of two of his works-in-progress: short films he'd made that were exciting and haunting," Nolan recounted. "Their exuberance made me feel jaded and leaden. I've never felt as old as I did watching Heath explore his talents."
As he started editing "The Dark Knight" for the big screen, Nolan said choosing takes to use and cutting up scenes Ledger was in were terribly difficult decisions.
"When you get into the edit suite after shooting a movie, you feel a responsibility to an actor who has trusted you, and Heath gave us everything," he wrote. "As we started my cut, I would wonder about each take we chose, each trim we made. I would visualize the screening where we'd have to show him the finished film-sitting three or four rows behind him, watching the movements of his head for clues to what he was thinking about what we'd done with all that he'd given us. Now that screening will never be real. I see him every day in my edit suite. I study his face, his voice. And I miss him terribly."
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