I Am Heath Ledger explores the life and tragic death of a rising Hollywood talent. The film, produced and directed by Derik Murray, is an astonishing posthumous profile of the fiercely talented and energetic actor stitched together from previously unseen footage shot from Ledger’s own cameras.
The actor died in 2008, long before the rise of the smartphone dropped a camera in everyone’s pocket, yet the film underscores the centrality of the device to Ledger’s life.
“There were always cameras around,” said model Christina Cauchi – one of many friends, family, and industry peers interviewed for the documentary – in the recently released trailer. “A videocamera or a Polaroid camera or the film camera. That’s the only way that I think of him, with the camera in his hand.”
“He was always a director,” said musician Ben Harper in the same video. “Acting was just a way to get there.”
Watch the full trailer below:
Ledger’s talents as an actor were considerable, however, and included the role of gay cowboy Ennis in 2005’s Brokeback Mountain and an Oscar-winning performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight.
“Before Brokeback Mountain came out, it would have been unthinkable to have romantic tragedy involving two gay cowboys,” said actor Ben Mendelsohn. “This is one of the biggest heartthrobs on Earth taking on that character. That’s an artist.”
The documentary weaves Ledger’s directorial aspirations together with his enormous talent, his courage in accepting groundbreaking roles, and his ambiguous relationship with fame to create a thorough portrait of a profoundly talented and complex actor.
“He wanted fame, and then when he got it, he didn’t want it,” notes filmmaker Matt Amato.
The documentary, which was produced in conjunction with Network Entertainment, will air on Spike on Wednesday, May 17 at 10 p.m., after a premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 23 and a limited theatrical release on May 3.