The death of Heath Ledger hit harder than most. Only 28, the actor was still sorting out things in his personal life, and he seemed to be hitting his stride professionally. His friends, colleagues and fans had such high hopes.
Seeing the first trailer for the I Am Heath Ledger documentary, which premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 23 and will air on Spike on May 17, is a punch in the gut. The Australian star of Brokeback Mountain, 10 Things I Hate About You, and The Patriot seems so alive in the rare footage and in the stories told by his family (his sister Kate Ledger), friends (musician Ben Harper), lovers (model Christina Cauchi), and colleagues (director Ang Lee). It makes us sad to know that while there may be other documentaries about him, there will be no new footage of him ever again.
Because of this, we thought we’d capture some of his best smiles from the doc trailer to fully appreciate them. There were many.
Spike’s I Am documentary series is a look inside look the lives of extraordinary people told by the people who knew them best. Naomi Watts, another ex (she dated him for four years before his 2008 death from an accidental overdose), appears in the film, but she is not included in the trailer.
This trailer does feature Ben Harper, who wrote his song “Happily Ever After in Your Eyes” for Heath when he welcomed daughter Matilda with Michelle Williams in 2005, talking about how Heath was “the most alive human.” He lived without abandon. “If it wasn’t on the edge, it didn’t interest him.”
Christina Cauchi, the Australian model who dated him from 2000 to 2002, remembered Heath’s love of filmmaking. “There were always cameras around — a video camera or a Polaroid camera or the film camera,” she said. “That’s the only way I think of him. With the camera in the hand.”
Brokeback helmer Ang Lee described Ledger as the kind of actor who would “steal the whole show,” adding, “That’s the power of Heath Ledger.”
But there was angst. His agent, Steve Alexander, talked about how it was never a dull moment working with the star. “He kind of almost pulled out of every movie he ended up doing,” he said.
And Heath’s friend Matt Amato spoke about his struggle with celebrity — and how it was a double-edged sword. “He wanted fame,” he said of his pal, “and then when he got it, he didn’t want it.”
Heath, who won a posthumous Oscar for The Dark Knight, would have been 38 today.
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