7 Revelations From I Am Heath Ledger

Including actor's struggle with self-doubt
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2017 11:31 AM CDT
7 Revelations From I Am Heath Ledger
In this Nov. 6, 2006 file photo, actor Heath Ledger arrives for the premiere of a film in New York.   (AP Photo/Dima Gavrysh, File)

I Am Heath Ledger, the new documentary featuring previously unreleased home movies of the late actor, premiered on Spike TV Wednesday night. Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and USA Today round up highlights from the film:

  • He knew right away he wanted to play the lead in 10 Things I Hate About You. He told his friend as much just after reading the script, despite the fact that he was relatively inexperienced at the time. He landed the role, which was his career breakout.
  • He told his agent he had bombed the screen test for The Patriot. In fact, he stopped in the middle of doing it to say, "Sorry, I'm wasting your time." After he got the part, Ledger still struggled with what his agent calls a "crisis of confidence." Such self-doubt continued to plague him: "He almost pulled out of every movie he ended up doing," his agent says.
  • He hated having to "sell" his movies. His agent recalls that he got increasingly uncomfortable while doing interviews for A Knight's Tale. Once, "he was getting very uncomfortable and fidgeting; he finally whispered to me that he needed to leave and get out of the room for a second."

  • He turned down the lead role in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man. "He said, 'That makes no sense for me, I can't possibly be Peter Parker,'" his agent recalls. The role eventually went to Tobey Maguire.
  • He played chess almost every day. His father says he was only a few points away from grandmaster status.
  • His attraction to Michelle Williams was obvious right away. She twisted her knee her first day shooting Brokeback Mountain, and Ledger held her hand all the way to the hospital. He "tried to comfort her and it was pretty obvious he was interested in her," recalls director Ang Lee.
  • He constantly licked his lips while playing the Joker in order to keep his lip prosthetics from falling off. Though the tic ended up adding to the villain's terrifying nature, Ledger originally did all that licking to avoid having to spend more time in the makeup chair; the lip prosthetics he wore loosened as he talked.
(Read more Heath Ledger stories.)

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