I had to read the headline twice for it to sink in. Heath Ledger‘s death today at the age of 28 is shocking, made only more so by the fact that excitement was still building for his appearance as the Joker in The Dark Knight, a sequel to Christopher Nolan’s excellent Batman Begins. Actually, it’s been building since summer and San Diego Comic-Con, but I’ve only recently started turning an ear to the buzz. Still, I always thought the casting was inspired. It’s a shame that such a talented young man felt so troubled at the end of his days, but sadly it’s nothing new.
Here’s what I’ll remember about Heath Ledger: He was brilliant in 10 Things I Hate About You – it was a sappy teen angst movie, but it was a pretty good one. Brokeback Mountain, for all its hype, struck me as dull but I can’t really fault the actors. But until Dark Knight comes out at least, I will remember him for his starring role in Roar, a short-lived adventure series tinged with elements of sword-and-sorcery that aired on Fox in 1997. Ledger played a Celtic prince struggling to unite his people against the Romans, and you could tell he relished the role.