Terry Gilliam, director of amazing fare such as Monty Python's Holy Grail & Meaning of Life, Brazil, Fisher King & 12 Monkeys (I love this guy, I do) and the upcoming Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus eulogizes the late Heath Ledger in Sunday's Guardian. Excerpts of the beautiful piece below
He was one of those blessed human beings who have the facility to do so many things at the same time. When he wasn't acting, he was directing music videos and supporting young musicians. He was working on the script for a film he was preparing to direct. He had an incredibly artistic side, and he was practically a grand master at chess. That's why, when he died, it was as if half of the world had collapsed.
Regarding finding out the news,
None of us could deal with it. It was impossible - that was the problem. It was absolutely impossible that this could be a fact.
On Ledger's acting.
In terms of his acting, it still rankles with me that he's dead because he would have been streets ahead of anyone else in his generation. He just kept getting better and better. He was fearless. On Parnassus, he was improvising all the time and it was better than what we had written. I don't normally encourage that kind of improvisation, but in a sense I felt Heath was writing this film. He was an incredibly funny performer when he wanted to be - his comic timing was just extraordinary - and then he could break your heart the next minute. Usually, with actors, it's all about themselves. But it was never like that with Heath. He was completely supportive of everything else around him. He got better performances out of other actors - he just drew it out of them. He was utterly generous and always aware of everyone else, and he behaved as if there was nothing special about him - he was just a guy.
We've all agreed to call Parnassus 'A film from Heath Ledger and friends' because I don't think it is a Terry Gilliam film. I think it's something that his life and death has created.
When he died, there were all these nonsensical stories coming out about Heath Ledger, James Dean and River Phoenix, all destroyed by the system - but that's bullshit. What happened was an absurd accident. I still don't understand it. I know he was exhausted - the last thing he said was that he was so tired and just wanted to sleep. You actually think at certain times angels come down to earth and Heath might have been one of them. And then he's gone and you think: this is all wrong, all the other people should be dead. He should be leading us all into a wonderful world of adventure.
For the complete article, click here. Incredibly moving stuff. I really hope that should he win the Oscar (fingers crossed), the controversy over who should accept on his behalf doesn't overshadow his achievement in The Dark Knight and no matter who actually takes the award home for him, we all take a moment to remember the brilliant actor.