I turned on the tv tonight to the story of the death of young actor Heath Ledger. I am extremely saddened to learn someone so young and talented is gone. For me it was a shock because I first saw him in the visually enticing and mythical “Roar”, a short lived 1997 television series based on ancient Ireland (Hibernia), the Celtic Druids and their fight against Roman Rule. He was young but had star quality from the start and I kept an eye out for his name.
I next saw him in “10 Things I hate About You”, “A Knight’s Tale”, “The Patriot”, “The Brothers Grimm” and his Oscar Nominated role, “Brokeback Mountain”. The Oscar nod did not surprise me in the least – Heath Ledger was a charmingly attractive actor with a great talent and a great range. I was truly excited about his upcoming role as “The Joker” in the movie “The Dark Knight”, I believe he would have brought an incredible reality to the classic comic book villian. It is a shame we will not see him reach his full potential as an actor. It is a shame he will not reach his full potential as a man.
Ledger’s death has reminded me of watching another young actor slowly coming into his own and then dying just on the brink of his deserved fame. The young man I speak of was River Phoenix, another extremely talented actor who showed great promise and made me want to see his career develop. His death too was sudden and shocking and a loss of great expectations.
I truly enjoy seeing young actors with promise and watching as their careers grow and reach the pinnacle of their talent. I have watched many in my life including Harrison Ford (American Grafitti), Tom Hanks (Bosom Buddies), Johnny Depp (21 Jump Street), Clint Eastwood (Rowdy Yates on Rawhide), Leonardo DiCaprio (Growing Pains). I could go on.
I’ve watched television and movies for over 50 years and you see a lot of actors come and go in half a century. But the special ones you notice and keep an eye on. The sudden death of anyone is sad, the sudden death of promising talent is shocking. Somehow you feel not only the loss of a human being but the loss of potential, which seems the cruelest loss of all.
Goodbye, Heath. Thank you for the joy of watching you perform and grow as an actor. This old Irish Prayer is for you, your family and all your fans:
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there… I do not sleep.
I am the thousand winds that blow…
I am the diamond glints on snow…
I am the sunlight on ripened grain…
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you waken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of gentle birds in circling flight…
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry—
I am not there… I did not die…
“Molann an obair an fear” – The work praises the man