Heath Ledger – In His Own Words

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Heath Ledger

A version of this article originally appeared in Empire magazine, issue #226 (April 2008).

On his early career

Heath Ledger

“When I was younger I was kinda handed a career. I was given these silly movies, they put my face on the posters and put all this pressure on my shoulders. They were basically delivering me a career I felt I didn’t deserve, because I hadn’t really proven myself. The turning point was maybe Ned Kelly. That was a film I approached with enthusiasm. Since then I’ve been somewhat destroying the career that was handed to me and creating one that I feel like I’ve deserved. I have no regrets in life, let alone about some silly movies I’ve made…”

On his first big lead role in A Knight’s Tale

Heath ledger

“I was surprised, but I was also curious about how I’d got to the top of the list. I was also excited and honored. I was more excited than nervous.”

Read Empire's review of A Knight's Tale.

On getting into acting

Heath Ledger

“I just loved it. And get doing it. I blinked my eyes and I was getting paid. Doors kept opening and I kept walking through them.”

On shooting The Four Feathers

Heath Ledger

“Oh man, that was tough. I was in Morocco for three months, and this sounds whiney, but I had three hours in the make-up chair every day so I was only getting three hours of sleep a night. And I had so many beards, and they were constantly changing… I sat in the [make-up] chair on the last day and the look I had to have was the worst of the lot – long hair, long beard, blood, bruises, cracked lip, black eye. I felt the glue brush on my cheek and I actually wanted to vomit.”

On what he would have done if he’d not become an actor

Heath Ledger

“I probably would have done very little. Just sat on the beach and surfed.”

On shooting The Brothers Grimm

Heath Ledger

“Terry (Gilliam) gave me and Matt (Damon) the opportunity to switch roles and create these characters that we hadn’t been given the opportunity to do in the past. For whatever reason, people hadn’t entrusted these kinds of characters to us before. Terry brings everything I expect plus more, with his eccentric energy, enthusiasm and passion for creating. It’s just so infectious. It kind of bleeds into your performance.”

Read Empire's review of The Brothers Grimm.

On Casanova

Heath Ledger

“I had a lot of fun making that movie, because I had no restraints; I wasn’t tying myself to any historical evidence because it’s a fairy-tale version of Casanova’s story. It’s a romp. I actually feel like I should have sent him up even more. I should have made it bigger…”

On making Brokeback Mountain

Heath Ledger

“It’s rare to come upon a script so beautifully written. But that shoot was just torturous at times. It was a really tough, lonely shoot… Ennis has no confidence and he’s lonely, so I wanted him to be slumped and uncomfortable and… just very bleak. I wanted him to be a clenched fist; and therefore my mouth became clenched too. It affects you quite a lot, you know? You go home, switch off, have a glass of wine and relax. But the second you lay down and go to sleep, you close your eyes and go through everything that happened the whole day. I feel like a sponge when I’m working. But I had a sense of accomplishment once I’d finished.”

Read Empire's review of Brokeback Mountain.

On playing the Joker in The Dark Knight

Heath Ledger

“Oh, I definitely feared it. Although anything that makes me afraid I guess excites me at the same time. I certainly had to put on a brave face and believe that I had something up my sleeve. Something different.”

Read Empire's review of The Dark Knight.

A version of this article originally appeared in Empire magazine, issue #226 (April 2008).

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