Updated: Nov 15
By Morgan Cole
Happy birthday, Heath Ledger.
When you Google “Heath Ledger,” the first two automated searches to come up are “Heath Ledger death” and “Heath Ledger death cause.” To this day, people receive a check every time you click on an article titled “How did Heath Ledger die?”
One of the greatest actors to ever live, and yet he’s only remembered for his tragic death.
When I think of Ledger, three movies come to mind: “10 Things I Hate About You,” “Brokeback Mountain” and, of course, “The Dark Knight.”
If you’ve seen these films, then you know that they are drastically different from one another. They’re not even in the same genre.
“10 Things I Hate About You” is your typical rom-com (one of the greatest rom-coms, at that).
“Brokeback Mountain” broke barriers as Hollywood’s first mainstream gay love story.
And last but certainly not least, “The Dark Knight” is known for Ledger’s legendary performance as the Joker.
Ledger’s rendition of the Joker is widely accepted as the greatest Joker of all time. It is the role he is most known for, as some speculate that the method acting he did for this character is what killed him.
But I’m not here to focus on his death, as I previously stated. Today, Ledger’s birthday, is the day to celebrate his life, not his death.
Before the year 2008, a lot of people overlooked Ledger and doubted his acting ability. And then “The Dark Knight” was released.
It’s scientifically impossible to doubt Ledger’s acting ability after watching this film. He is the Joker. He is insane, deranged, hilarious and wicked all at once.
When I found out (years later of course, because unfortunately I was born in 2001) that the actor who played the Joker in “The Dark Knight” was Ledger, who I had only ever seen in “10 Things I Hate About You,” I was flabbergasted to say the least. I refused to believe that the psychotic, villainous character I saw was the same heartthrob I had just seen in my favorite rom-com. It made me love him even more, knowing that he could play such contrasting roles.
Ledger is someone who we call a chameleon actor. He never does the same role twice, and he’s so impeccable at his job, that he simply disappears into the character. You wouldn’t know it’s him unless you looked up the cast on IMDB.
So, Heath, happy 43rd birthday. Thank you for giving us Patrick Verona and Ennis Del Mar. Thank you for giving us William Marshall. Thank you for giving us the greatest portrayal of the Joker that the world may ever see. I wish we could’ve seen all of the other characters you would’ve played in your lifetime, because Lord knows you had several remarkable performances left in you. You will undoubtedly live on as one of the most versatile actors of all time.
Today, we celebrate your life. Happy birthday, Heath.