I was shocked this morning to see that it has been 3 years today since Heath Ledger's untimely death. He was a rarety amongst young actors, doing a bizarre mixture of film genres and roles within them and all his fans were expecting great things from him in the years to come. So it came as a great shock to discover that he had died aged only 28.
Ledger first hit the big screen back in 1999 in the modern take of a Shakespearean classic 10 Things I Hate About You with Julia Stiles. Since then, he has managed to captivate audiences in (among others) A Knights Tale, Brokeback Mountain and perhaps most famously The Dark Knight, where his role as the joker was talked about as the greatest role of his career and rewarded with numerous awards and nominations (all sadly received posthumously by relatives).
For me, my favourite of his roles is that of William Thatcher in A Knights Tale where he, a pauper, is told by his father to "reach for the stars". His quest to make something of his life and become a knight against all odds was both medieval and modern, sad and funny. And when others would have given up, Thatcher never ceased in his efforts and was ultimately rewarded for his persistence. It is a brilliant film with a fantastic supporting cast, including the phenomenal Paul Brittany, and managed somehow to make a soppy period romance cool and hip.
Ledger was clearly adamant that he didn't want to be type-cast as the pretty boy, choosing to take on roles that showcased his acting talent and not just his pretty face (though for this fan, the pretty face certainly helped) and dealt with serious roles with a maturity many other young actors would not have been able to pull off.
So here's to you, Heath Ledger, and all the brilliant films you should have made.