23rd January 2008, 11:11 AM
Heath Ledger pass away
Academy Award nominee Heath Ledger, 28, has died of a possible drug overdose involving sleeping pills in New York, police have confirmed.
The actor was sick with pneumonia when he died, the TMZ.com website reports, saying it had been contacted by representatives of Ledger's family, who said they'd been told by police that the actor's death was accidental.
The representatives said the family was particularly distraught over media speculation that he may have taken his own life.
New York police said they could not confirm Ledger was suffering from pneumonia.
"This is the first I'm hearing that,'' Lieutenant John Grimpal, from the New York Police Department, told Macquarie Radio.
"The medical examiner, once he or she conducts an autopsy, will determine exactly the cause of death.''
He said police were continuing to treat the New York apartment, where Ledger was found dead, as a crime scene, but had initially ruled out foul play.
"Anytime someone dies, especially when they're so young, the detectives from the precinct conduct a thorough investigation just to rule out that criminality is not involved,'' Grimpal said. "Early on in the investigation it appears criminality is not involved.''
Found by housekeeper
Ledger was found naked and unconscious in his bed at his $US23,000 a month apartment on Broome Street, SoHo, in Manhattan, by his housekeeper and a masseuse about 3.35pm local time, when they knocked on his bedroom door and got no reply.
He had an appointment for a massage, said New York Police spokesman Paul Browne.
Ledger's body was removed and wheeled into the back of a medical examiner's van in front of a huge crowd, including media.
He was pronounced dead at 3.45pm (7.45am AEDT) by a medical examiner who went to the apartment.
New York police officer Martin Brown said investigators would most likely not know the cause of death until an autopsy was held on the body.
Asked if foul play had been ruled out, Officer Brown said it had not.
"That's what needs to be investigated," Brown said. "It takes a while. The medical examiner will do an autopsy and they will determine the cause of death
23rd January 2008, 12:49 PM
Re: Heath Ledger pass away
reminds me of river phoenix...can't take the pressure of fame?
23rd January 2008, 12:53 PM
Re: Heath Ledger pass away
sorry for my ignorance, but which movies did he acted in? heard his name before but can't recall the movies.
23rd January 2008, 01:12 PM
Re: Heath Ledger pass away
Some of his movies.... not the complete list i reckon...
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
The Brothers Grimm (2005)
Lords of Dogtown (2005)
The Order (2003)
The Sin Eater
Ned Kelly (2003)
The Four Feathers (2002)
Monster's Ball (2001)
A Knight's Tale (2001)
The Patriot (2000)
23rd January 2008, 02:18 PM
Re: Heath Ledger pass away
Don't forget the upcoming Batman seqeul, The Dark Knight.
Man, this is really, really sad. My thoughts and condolences his family. And to think he was only 28 years old. I feel sad for his 2-year-old daughter.
But as of now, there are still no official medical report, just rumours.
23rd January 2008, 02:22 PM
Re: Heath Ledger pass away
Just how did a Perth kid with no acting training end up with an Oscar nomination and a fabulous pad in Brooklyn? Good Weekend's Janet Hawley spends several New York moments with Our Heath, who speaks out about those paparazzi bad-boy rumours and why he had to flee Australia.
I've flown to America, and the severe blonde customs officer fingerprinting me and examining my journalist's visa barks her interrogation on who I'm interviewing in New York.
"Heath Ledger," I reply. Instantly she melts, honeyed voice confiding: "Heath and Michelle came through my line last week." Blushing, she lifts a pink plastic paperclip from her drawer. "This is Heath's: it was clipped to his passport. I told them I wanted them to win Oscars for Brokeback." Clenching the paperclip, transformed into a talisman by the alchemy of Hollywood, she falteringly offers: "You could give it back to Heath..." I tell her she should keep it.
A day later, I'm watching the embodiment of her adoration dancing animatedly around his four-storey New York home, holding his six-month-old daughter Matilda, talking with the speed of a rapper, and snuggling his beaming partner, actress Michelle Williams. There's no trace of the stiff-bodied, clenched-jaw, monosyllabic cowboy Ennis or his downtrodden wife Alma, the roles they played in Brokeback Mountain, the pivotal film that changed their lives with extraordinary synchronicity.
Ledger was the hot young movie star with a bad-boy reputation, who suddenly stunned audiences with his profound performance as the stoic gay cowboy Ennis Del Mar, winning an Oscar nomination. Williams, former star of TV teen soap Dawson's Creek, came out of nowhere to also gain an Oscar nomination for her role, and is now permanently at Ledger's side.
After a four-hour lunch in a local cafe, downing steak and chips, chocolate mousse and good red wine, the fiercely private Ledger had wrapped himself in his sheepskin coat, woolly hat and gloves and, unexpectedly, invited me to walk with him along freezing, snow-piled footpaths to see his new home, and meet his family and Australian house guests.
He's only 26, this boy from Perth, but his stature, deep voice, strong good looks and recent maturity as an actor give him a gravitas that seems way beyond his years. He exudes an indefinable physical charisma that, like Bill Clinton or Mick Jagger, makes all eyes turn to him. "It's not that you know they're celebrities," observes actor Rachel Griffiths, who starred with Ledger in Ned Kelly in 2003. "They could walk anonymously into a Zulu village, and still have that uber-man effect."
Upstairs in a triple-garage house in Brooklyn, we walk in on Michelle, petite and 25, having the final fitting of her deep-yellow Vera Wang dress for the Oscars. It's the week before the awards. She's surrounded by a circle of people pinning and primping, with a dazzling heap of bling on the dining table that may or may not be stitched on.
Drawing me aside in the kitchen as he uncorks a bottle of red wine, Ledger murmurs: "The dark-haired lady who doesn't blink is Vera Wang. She doesn't sew, she just directs. We've been teasing Michelle that if she stands with her legs together in this dress, she'll look like an Oscar."
So what's he wearing? Ledger slaps on an elite British accent to explain that Dunhill gave him a handmade tuxedo, even sent two bowler-hatted tailors across from London for fittings.
23rd January 2008, 02:23 PM
Re: Heath Ledger pass away
What does it feel like, walking that red carpet in awards ceremonies? "Surreal," he responds. "Like diving into an Olympic pool, swimming the length underwater, then emerging gasping for breath. It's so noisy that it's quiet, you can't hear; the flashlights are so blinding that it's dark, you can't see."
He'll be relieved when the award season is over. The studio puts them up in Chateau Marmont, hotel for Hollywood's hippest stars, where comedian John Belushi famously died after injecting a speedball of heroin and cocaine. "We had Belushi's room last time," Ledger grimaces.
After the Oscars, "HM&M", as Ledger calls the family trio, have a week's holiday in California's Napa Valley, then go back to Brooklyn to settle properly into their new home.
"I'll show you through the house," Ledger offers, touring me through every room of the gracious 1860s residence. The clearly adored Matilda's room is next to the main bedroom. There's an excellent collection of music, sound and camera equipment, all pointers to Ledger's yearning to direct and produce his own films.
His books are still being shipped over from the beachside dreamhouse in Sydney's Bronte that he spent a year renovating, and hoped to make their main home, but sold after they'd only lived in it for 10 nightmarish days. "It sucks that I can't live in my own country," he says, choking up with emotion.
I should admit i was surprised that Ledger invited me home. It was amazing enough that he agreed to a two-day interview.
It took 15 metres of emails and countless international phone calls to progress through layers of local and American film-world minders, to finally be granted a time, which always felt likely to be cancelled.
I was constantly reminded that the actor loathes interviews, which he often reduces
to bouts of fidgeting and mumbling. He's been so burned by stalking paparazzi, gossip columnists and manipulated TV interview clips that have cast him with a rude, bored-brat image that he's inclined to paint all media with the same brush.
But in the two days I spend with him, his initial wariness relaxes into friendliness, warmth and humour. Indeed, I'm allowed to tickle Matilda's tummy, and I get a spontaneous hug and kiss from Ledger when I leave. On day two he makes lunch for us both in his kitchen while eagerly discussing everything from teething to art.
Often Ledger resembles a skittish thoroughbred colt: instincts highly tuned, lanky limbs rarely still. He seems a hyperactive bundle of energy, who "can't stop myself spewing out ideas" for creative projects he's writing, planning to direct and film. I venture that he might have been labelled ADHD and given medication, and he nods in agreement, adding he finds the idea shocking.
Then he segues to pools of calm, reflective, measured thought; then into darker places, where he talks of being hurt, invaded and betrayed to the core.
The more you learn about the rollercoaster life of this former day student of Guildford Grammar, the privileged private school where West Australian farmers and graziers often send sons to board, two qualities stand out.
First is his drive to become a great and versatile actor, when - apart from school plays - he's never had an acting lesson in his life.
The other is his ability - mature beyond his years - to take control of his own life and destiny, remaining well grounded and non-narcissistic in this age of celebrity narcissism. Ledger got lucky early, got smart early, and instead of burning out early in a Tinseltown scrapheap, redirected his career.
It's been three-phase. Teen idol sex god, knight-on-horseback sex god - he'd rather both disappear - to serious actor wanting longevity.
Ledger has made 16 films. The latest, much-anticipated feature is Candy, adapted from Luke Davies' compelling novel of love and heroin addiction, in which he stars alongside Abbie Cornish and Geoffrey Rush (it's released on May 25).
But it's his 14th, Brokeback Mountain, the risky independent film by Taiwan-born director Ang Lee, that's been the monumental milestone in both his and Williams' lives.
They met and fell in love on the lonely set, and as co-star Jake Gyllenhaal quips: "Heath and I made out, but Heath and Michelle had the baby." (Ledger bashfully admits that they "actually conceived at Byron Bay".) Now top directors with splendid scripts are queueing to work with him, and his fee has skyrocketed. (It was small on Brokeback Mountain, but he has a percentage of gross, so will do well.)
After Brokeback, Ledger (with Williams in tow) spent six months in Venice making Casanova, then early last year came to Sydney to film Candy, with director Neil Armfield. But his growing fame was starting to prove a poisoned chalice.
He swears that, to give him a more saleable bad-boy image, a clique of paparazzi in Australia fabricated claims he spat at them when they disrupted a night shoot of Candy, an allegation whipped along by gossip columnists (oddly, no photographs of the "spitting" ever appeared).
"We were filming in a blocked street in Newtown," he explains. "Paparazzi invaded
the set. One kept yelling at me to let him get a shot, and when I didn't respond, I got the paparazzi revenge treatment - he ran through the set, repeatedly firing his flash, ruining Neil's take. Then he flashed his car headlights on high beam, causing more chaos." The crew were furious, as was Armfield, who now says, "I wanted that photographer horsewhipped".
Ledger approached the photographer, who "smirked at me and said, 'See ya at home, Heath.' It chilled my spine. Michelle and I were renting in Bondi, and a photographer perpetually hid in the barbecue area, following us everywhere." Michelle, pregnant, "felt she must have had a dick growing out of her forehead - we were pursued like we were aliens".
They returned to America, and this January flew to Australia with Matilda to move into their completed Bronte house, and attend Brokeback Mountain's Sydney premiere.
It was a year since the supposed spitting incident, but three photographers created
their own headlines by squirting Ledger and Williams with water pistols as they stepped onto the red carpet.
Tears fill Ledger's eyes: "That broke my heart. They obviously wanted me to punch and swear at them, looking a big bad idiot, but I was crushed. I had to introduce the
film, but I could barely speak. I went straight home to Bronte, got into the bathroom and broke down."
Next morning, longing to take his surfboard and ride some waves, he found his house under siege from TV crews, reporters and photographers. "They kept ringing my doorbell, demanding I come out. One paparazzi was on my front step, with his daughter, holding a big bunch of roses and giving TV interviews, saying he wanted to apologise to Michelle, but that they had to teach me a lesson, I needed to be brought down a peg.
"We were like prisoners in our own house; our own goldfish bowl, it turned out. I'd installed dark reflective glass on the balconies and windows, but they had special lenses to shoot pictures of us through the glass.
"I felt so stressed and disheartened. I wanted Michelle to love Australia, but we couldn't live like that. It never let up, so after 10 days we packed our bags, flew to America, and I put the house on the market."
Ledger adds: "Russell and Nicole have told me that when you first get successful, Australians love you and put you up there, then for 10 years they beat you down; then you're fine again and they leave you alone. So you just have to get through those first 10 years...
"Russell has been really nice to me, does the big brother, fist-on-the-chin thing. He says, 'You gotta stop doing finger signs at the paparazzi, because it rubs off bad on you.'
I say I know, but my instinctive reaction is to at least make a gesture.
"That spitting saga was so disgusting. If someone spat at me, I'd probably hit them in the face. But the more I deny it and defend myself, the more people believe I'm somehow guilty. I hated being made to feel guilty, needing to prove that I was innocent. I felt so distressed when my mother and sister Kate rang me in tears over reports of my alleged bad behaviour."
His face darkens: "Some paparazzi chant at me: 'Can't you take it Heath? You shouldn't be in showbiz if you can't take being followed and photographed. You need us Heath.'
No I ****ing don't!"
23rd January 2008, 02:24 PM
Re: Heath Ledger pass away
A newly gentrified neighbourhood in Brooklyn, across the river from Manhattan, has become his sanctuary. Its quiet streets have solid, four-storey, linked houses, small gourmet shops and cafes, parents walking babies in prams, dogs on leads - and no paparazzi. "They have much bigger fish to fry than me over here." Ledger grins. He still wants to come to Australia, find a place on the coast with some land - but he's not ready, just yet.
Sally Ledger (now Bell) romantically named her son Heathcliff after her favourite literary character. He grew up a lively, happy, affectionate child, with a big imagination and boundless curiosity. His father Kim, a racing-car engineer and businessman, was keen on sport, in which Heath excelled at school, along with art, his best subject.
At 13, he started acting in school plays, Peter Pan, Hamlet. Conscious of his fidgeting hands and feet, he learned modern dance "to gain more control over my body" and proved a natural, directing and choreographing his school's rock eisteddfod entry. "I got 80 farmboys who'd never danced before up on stage, and we won," he says proudly.
Elder sister Kate was involved in acting, and at 14 he accompanied her to her agent, landing a part in a TV series, Ship to Shore.
"I was terrible," he confesses, "but I figured if I could see what I was doing wrong, then I could also fix it. I was into self-improvement early."
More TV roles followed and at 16 he left school, left home and moved east to film teen idol roles in the films Blackrock, Roar and Paws.
His parents had divorced when he was 11, and he'd been living between both parents' houses, turn about. "That set me off on a gypsy life, excellent training to live out of a bag. You grow up emotionally quicker than other kids, you get more flexible and independent. I spent a lot of time studying my parents - it's a shortcut to understanding yourself. I gained an early understanding that all human beings are flawed, and it's okay to be flawed, that it's even more interesting."
He stays close to his extended family, so close that their combined initials, KAOS, are tattooed on his wrist. (Ashleigh and Olivia are his half-sisters.)
After school, drama institute was discussed, "but I feared four years in acting academy would spit me out like a Toyota model with a set of rules, when I felt acting was about defying rules", he says. Besides, he bores easily.
Ledger flew to Los Angeles, won the lead in another teen film, 10 Things I Hate About You, but, concerned with becoming chick-flick eye candy, looked for something more substantial.
Columbia Pictures cast him as Mel Gibson's heroic son in The Patriot. "Mel was great to me, but it was the first time I'd worked with a big movie star and I felt really intimidated.
I still hadn't figured out how to act properly: my early success wasn't based on acting."
But a crisis point was looming. Columbia starred him in A Knight's Tale, playing a commoner pretending he's a knight so he can enter jousting tournaments. "We filmed in Prague, but I didn't take it too seriously.
I was 19, we drank and partied, I was often hungover, it was all a romp.
"Then, when we finished, my agent, Steve Alexander, says Columbia wants to discuss the promotion campaign. I go, 'Eeehh?'
"We go to this huge boardroom table meeting with 15 people in suits, and huge posters of me captioned, 'He Will Rock You.' I'm freaking out.
"They outline their plan for the release ... we're sending you around America, to 20 states, then 20 countries around the world ... and I got this two-hour spiel on how they were turning me into Columbia's new It boy.
"They offered me ridiculous amounts of money to make franchise movies, Spiderman to James Bond. Studios do this - find one person, invest a lot of money in him like
a product, own and make money off him.
"At the end it was, 'So kid, whaddya think?'
23rd January 2008, 02:25 PM
Re: Heath Ledger pass away
I couldn't speak. I left the boardroom, found a bathroom, shut the door, and just started crying. After a while, Steve comes in and calls slowly: 'Heeeaath.' I tell Steve I can't do it, I don't want my life to be in their hands, I'm not ready to be seen on such a grand scale, I can't act well enough yet. I don't want a career handed to me on a platter, it's too easy, it wouldn't be mine because I haven't earned it. It feels wrong.
"The **** hit the fan. I had Amy Pascal, head of Columbia Pictures, on the phone to me ... 'Listen kid, hear this, your career will be over, you'll never work again, you'll never live again unless you do this for me.'
"I dig Amy now, we've been through a lot of battles and she's cool, but that time was so heavy.
"In the end I agreed to do part of the promotion tour only - providing they flew
my family and Perth friends to America for two weeks.
"How many friends? Fourteen! They did it."
It's late and Ledger offers to drive me back to my hotel. I should report that I've seen no glimmer of the rude, bored-brat celebrity image. Rather - paparazzi finger signs apart - he seems well mannered and considerate, his head well screwed on.
In the car, I ask how it felt as an ambitious 17-year-old actor getting started in Hollywood? Did much of it seem like a load of bullshit?
He laughs. "It still often feels like a whole load of bullshit, and just acknowledging that puts me at ease. When I first worked in the industry, it seemed so unbelievably foreign and surreal. The differences between good and bad people were so extreme. The way some people treated others, or held themselves so falsely high, disgusted me, and I promised myself I'd never become like that."
He doesn't deny that he might have taken advantage of his "It boy" status, but adds he soon discovered he "was the one being used, rather than the other way around".
It took him a while to learn how to handle the fame phenomenon and its demands, to become more comfortable and diplomatic with it. "One of the best things I ever did was fly my Perth mates over. Most of us have been friends since kindergarten, but I hadn't seen them for a few years, and a separation was happening. They were beginning to think of me as the manufactured celebrity Heath, with a level of intimidation.
"They all stayed in my house. I showed them the madness of my new world, how
I kept sane through the junketing, I wasn't this screaming demanding diva. They started relaxing and teasing me again, I teased them, we had a ball, and we're all now very secure friends."
I half expect ledger to cancel the next day's interview, busy as he is, but he doesn't.
I go with him on his errands around Brooklyn - to the friendly cheese shop, discussing his favourite pasta recipes as he makes a selection; around the corner to the wine merchant, catching up on local news while stocking his pantry for his house guests while he's away in Hollywood.
Williams and baby are rugging up for a walk, and we discuss Australian paintings
and photography; she's keen to collect.
Ledger said he started to fall in love with her when they fell off the toboggan in Brokeback: she hurt her leg, he went in the ambulance with her to hospital, she spent the rest of the film on crutches, and he looked after her. "Michelle was coming through a difficult phase. She had no idea how beautiful she is, how talented. Her gaze was downcast, like Ennis's. She's been acting professionally since she was eight, and going to auditions - and never being sure why you're rejected or accepted makes you insecure and vulnerable."
Sounds like the knight to the rescue? "Oh no, she rescued me as much as I rescued her," Ledger says. "Michelle has strengths where I have weaknesses, and she gave me a real life. I love how her posture has changed, her gaze now is up."
In the kitchen, as Ledger slices sourdough bread, I ask where he'd be now if he'd said yes to Columbia's proposal.
"Probably in drug rehab, or living a layabout life in Miami," he replies.
"I knew I was being offered a deal with the devil. I didn't trust it, it felt short-term, they weren't going to take responsibility for me if I fried. I also felt professionally cheapened - like, 'Is that all they think I'm capable of?'"
It triggered a turning point, and he deliberately set out to nail riskier, non-typical Ledger roles that extended his acting ability.
A pensive bushranger in Ned Kelly, an alcoholic skater dude in Lords of Dogtown,
a bumbling conman in The Brothers Grimm followed. None were large commercial successes, but he knew he was maturing as a person and actor.
Gregor Jordan, who directed him in Ned Kelly, says: "Heath made this ballsy choice
that he wanted to be an actor, not a star.
He'd rather be Sean Penn or Johnny Depp, not Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt. It could have backfired badly, because so many people were waiting to say, 'Omigod, look at the
roles he's trying to do when he couldn't pull them off.'
23rd January 2008, 02:26 PM
Re: Heath Ledger pass away
"But Heath did, and I'm proud of him. I've known him since I directed him in Two Hands at 18, and Heath's always had an old soul."
A small, powerful role Ledger played as the disturbed suicidal son in Monster's Ball proved a fortuitous choice. Novelist Larry McMurtry, Brokeback's scriptwriter, saw it and instantly decided: "That's Ennis." Luke Davies, who co-wrote the script of Candy, immediately reacted: "That's Dan."
There are a handful of directors actors will work for without even reading the script. One is Ang Lee - but Brokeback Mountain's script, too, says Ledger, was the closest to perfect he'd seen.
"I hadn't met Ang before I got the role," Ledger says, "and I feel I only really met him when we finished filming. We were at the Venice Film Festival. Ang was asked a question and we were waiting for the one-word answers he always gave us, and suddenly this outpouring came. Jake and I looked at each other amazed - like, 'Ang speaks English really well.' 'He can really talk!'
"Ang has a superb understanding of the intimacy and internal nature of film acting. His attention to detail is microscopic in pre-production ... think about the way you walk, talk. Then go away, digest it all, spit out a character of your own. Turn up to film, and Ang barely says a word the entire shoot.
"He trusts you to have given birth to the instincts, brain and breath of the character, and instead of directing you, he directs the environment around you to make it believable."
On set, they felt Lee's manipulation. "He created a lonely environment for us, so it bled into our performances. He'd never patronise us with praise, never even say 'Good shot'. He'd just sigh and walk off for the day.
"Early one morning, I was doing a scene, it was extremely cold, my voice was croaky, I hadn't done my voice warm-ups which I usually do religiously. I felt like my lips were frozen and I wasn't speaking properly, which is fine for Ennis because his mouth doesn't move, but I was feeling paranoid afterwards.
"I ran up to Ang and asked: 'Did it sound okay?'
I was desperate for some nod of approval. Ang shuffled his feet, just said, 'Light was good', and walked away.
"I'd go back to my trailer every night torturing myself, feeling like a failure. But I'd wake up the next morning wanting to defeat him and do better. Then you understand it's directorial manipulation to achieve what the film needs - and you go with it."
Ledger recalls the day the Oscar nominations were announced, and Lee phoning, crying, "I love you." "Michelle and I were amazed. Ang had never shown the slightest interest in us as people, only as actors. But from then on, he's become involved in our lives."
How did Ledger evolve the complex character that is Ennis? "I like the physicality of characters, and strive to bodily represent their story. Ennis's walk
and speech come from pacing around a hotel room for a month, experimenting.
"I wanted his speech pattern to represent his inability to express love, and to be loved. His mouth became a clenched fist, because his only form of expression is violence."
Does he use mirrors? "Never. You don't learn how to act looking in mirrors, you can tell actors who've done that. It's dangerous, because acting is not about what your face is doing. If you act face first then you've worked out your face, but not the true thoughts inside. I work from inside out - thoughts and emotions first, and then the face follows."
Though Brokeback Mountain was hailed as a gay film, Ledger says, "There's only about 5 per cent gay sex in it. The love scene inside the tent was the most difficult to act. It's darkly lit in the movie, and I wish it was like that when we shot it, which would have made things a whole lot easier. Instead, they blew up the tent with light, so they could selectively grade in shadows later."
Ledger says he didn't directly discuss the role with gay friends while researching Ennis, "because it was so clear in the script the anxieties he was battling".
Making Candy, however, he and Abbie Cornish did spend time with heroin addicts, learned how to tie tourniquets, flick syringes, inject then show reactions on their faces and bodies.
23rd January 2008, 02:27 PM
Re: Heath Ledger pass away
It is the first film in seven years that Ledger has made using an Australian accent. "It was so liberating to be able to mumble, breathe and improvise in my own accent," he professes.
In Candy, Ledger plays Dan, a disarmingly charming some-time poet and junkie, well-intentioned but inept, as "heroin is the puppeteer of his life". He passively condones Candy, his wilful artist lover, joining his heroin habit, and they drift in a sea of
love and tandem addiction.
Geoffrey Rush is Casper, an elegantly decaying junkie professor/mentor to the pair. He tells Candy: "When you can stop, you don't want to; when you want to, you can't."
Their addiction slides into living hell, she works as a prostitute to buy drugs, there's a horrendous miscarriage scene (which spooked Ledger, as Williams was just pregnant), then the pair make life-altering decisions and struggle towards redemption.
There was some interesting creative tension on the shoot. Armfield, an esteemed theatre producer, loves to rehearse scenes to perfection before he films a take.
"Abbie and I don't want to capture our performance in rehearsal," explains Ledger. "We're superstitious and nervous about it because we're not sure we can repeat it in the shoot. But Neil backed down and let us work in our own patterns."
Armfield chuckles that it became "a them and us scenario on the shoot. Heath and Abbie, the naughty kids on set, disappearing to the pub for several drinks before they had to film any 'high' scenes. I understood they needed to do this."
He admits he was amazed at Ledger's astute sense of his own physicality, and knowledge of the camera from both sides of the lens. "I often thought Heath was under-acting. I couldn't see with my naked eye what he was doing, but on the big screen, he was right, perfect.
"And I often thought he was speaking too softly, but again, he was right. He also wanted to cut a lot of the dialogue out. I insisted on filming it anyway, then I have to say he was 90 per cent right there too, because I cut the dialogue in the edit."
What does Ledger get out of acting?
"It's escapism, an extension of my curiosity.
I love the striving, the process of being part of something bigger than me, because it forces me to examine myself and my own life."
It's a strange thing humans do, acting? "Yes it is," he laughs. "But that's a thought I cannot have in the middle of a scene. The second I realise what I'm really doing - I'm a glorified monkey dressed up in an outfit - it's like, 'What are you doing, Heath? Oh, go home.'"
His arms fling up, shirtsleeves slip back, and the tattoos on both arms are clearly visible.
Is he planning to add M&M to his KAOS tattoo? "I'm still thinking about where to put them," he replies. They want more children, so some design strategy is required. "Very early in our relationship, we talked about having babies together. I always knew I'd be a young father."
On the other arm are the words, "Old Man River". Michelle wrote it there, and he had it tattooed on.
What does it mean? "It's kinda private," he blushes, then adds, "... there is a place called Old Man River." One senses it's more a metaphorical meaning; perhaps the longevity his old soul yearns for as an actor, to just keep rolling along.