Actor Heath Ledger, 28, died yesterday in New York City. Ledger was found unconscious by a maid who, like the paramedics who soon arrived, was unable to revive him. While sleeping pills were found in the apartment, there was no indication that drugs played a role in the death or that it was suicide. An initial autopsy was inconclusive, but additional tests will be run to try and identify the cause of death.
Ledger appeared to me to be a quiet, sensitive guy who was never fully comfortable with the fame his career brought. He disliked the beefcake roles initially offered him by the studios, and rebelled by taking on a series of harder roles, with success that led one to believe we were watching the early stages of a significant acting career. Anyone who can play the roles of gay sheep rancher Ennis Del Mar and legendary lover Casanova in back to back movies obviously has some acting chops. Those who have seen the footage say his turn as Joker in the soon to be released Batman sequel “Dark Knight” would have propelled him to even greater heights.
And maybe that’s the problem. For all of its benefits, the life of a celebrity can be difficult. Not everyone is willing to give up all that the lifestyle demands. Sometimes, the celebrity simply walks away from the lifestyle, and sometimes the lifestyle consumes the celebrity. Hopefully, this isn’t another of those cases.
There’s a cautionary tale here for other celebrities as well. We don’t yet know how Ledger died, so it’s premature to make too many assumptions. But the antics of the Lohans and Spears of the world leave them very close to meeting the same fate as Ledger. It’s really only blind stupid luck that keeps them – and those around them when they do the stupid things they do – alive. Perhaps this tragic death will cause some to reconsider the wisdom of their actions – and the value of their lives.