Heath Ledger’s death is a terrible loss. He was an actor of great sensitivity and commitment. Most of the appreciations and obituaries focus on his Oscar-nominated performance in Brokeback Mountaintribute that emphasizes Ledger’s willingness to take risks in character roles. In the best of his performances, he played young men who were struggling with their feelings and struggling even more with their inability to express them. His brief appearance in Monster’s Ball was the foundation of everything that followed. Not many people saw his superb performance in the Australian film Candy, as a drug addict.
Today, though, I want to think of him in his lighter films. He made the silly but irresistible rock-jousting movie A Knight’s Tale a delight. He was proud that the director used his suggestion of David Bowie’s “Golden Years” song for the dance number. And he was a spirited modern-day Petruccio in 10 Things I Hate About You, strutting the tiers of the school’s football stadium as he sang “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.” Cat (Julie Stiles) realized she could not resist him at that moment and audiences felt the same way.