January 22 will mark the one-year anniversary of Heath Ledger’s death at the age of 28. He died of a prescription drug overdose and shocked and saddened the world. The dude could freaking act, and his swan song as The Joker in “Dark Knight” has gotten tons of props and award nominations.
To remember him, some of Heath’s closest friends and coworkers talked to Entertainment Weekly and told of Heath’s final days.
The director of “Twilight,” Catherine Hardwicke, who directed Heath in “Lords of Dogtown,” said: “The pressures he was under, with his family, his daughter, everything, would stress out any yogi. Buddha would be stressed. You’re being buffeted and pulled and tempted and flown across the ocean back and forth – how does anybody survive that? Obviously a lot of people don’t.”
Nicola Pecorini, Heath’s friend and cinematographer – who happens to be working on “The Order and Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,” Heath’s final film – said, “Separation when there is a kid involved is always very painful, no matter what. And Heath was always very hard on himself. His tendency was always to say, ‘What did I do wrong?’ He was really bleeding. And I’m pretty sure that all his sleeping problems had nothing to do with work and all to do with Matilda and Michelle.”
Gary Oldman, who played Commissioner Gorden in “The Dark Knight” said: “Most of the conversations we had were about family. I think because I had been through being a single dad in the past, he was picking my brain a little. The last time I saw him, he said he was looking forward to spending some time with Matilda.”
Terry Gilliam, director of “The Brothers Grimm” and the coming “Doctor Parnassus,” remembered Heath by saying, “All of us who were close to Heath knew what was going on, and it was not the most pleasant experience… He was obsessed with his daughter. She became the center of his thoughts. He would drag her up to my house in London. Here’s Heath, Academy Award nominee, and he’d just grab his daughter, stick her in a backpack, hop on the Tube, and come up to the house. Nobody would have thought, There’s Heath Ledger. He was just a guy with a kid.”
Terry went on to say, “The insomnia was really getting to him. He’d arrive in the morning looking really shattered. I’d say, ‘Let’s take it easy because you’re knackered.’ And he’d say, ‘No, let’s go.’ And he’d just whip the thing up into another gear very quickly and off we’d go. By the end of the day he was transformed into this beaming, angelic presence. The work just lifted him every day. He couldn’t get enough of it.”
Regarding Heath’s health, Nicola said, “I’m convinced Heath caught pneumonia at the end of that year. I remember I forced him to see a doctor, even though he didn’t want to. The doctor said, ‘Yes, you have the beginning of pneumonia. You’d better get antibiotics and go home and sleep.’ He got the antibiotics, but he refused to go home and sleep. And that very night, he delivered one of his best performances I have ever seen him deliver. He went on nerves, mainly.”
Heath is sorely missed by a lot of us, but mostly his darling daughter Matilda.