Heath Ledger was just 28 when he died of an overdose in 2008, and was universally beloved for his unforgettable roles and his adventurous personality. However, his true passion was behind the lens. Friends and family will tell you that the actor was always seen with a camera. Over the years, the Brokeback Mountain star collected a ton of personal footage that, along with confessionals from those who knew them, is making its debut in the new documentary I Am Heath Ledger.
"That's the only way I think of him, with the camera in the hand," model Christina Cauchi says in the newly-released trailer for the Spike TV production.
“He was always a director," childhood friend Trevor DiCarlo adds. "Acting was just a way to get there."
In most of the home videos, Ledger is playing around with the camera by himself. He's smiling, looking into mirrors — not too different from how we play around with our phones taking selfies. In other clips, someone else is filming. He's setting up bonfires, playing the guitar, messing around with a basketball, all normal things viewed through a bittersweet lens. These clips piece together to form an intimate look at the actor so many revered, including sides we had heard about but never truly seen.
"He kind of almost pulled out of every movie he ever ended up doing," his agent, Steve Alexander, reveals.
“He wanted fame, and then when he got it, he didn’t want it,” filmmaker Matt Amato says.
But, that wasn't possible, since, as director Ang Lee points out, he steals the show even as a supporting actor.
It wasn't even until the past year or so that those close to the actor began publicly opening up about their feelings on his death.
"Personally, it affected me in ways I can't necessarily put in words," Ledger's Brokeback Mountain costar Jake Gyllenhaal said in an interview.
Just a few months ago, the actor's former partner, Michelle Williams, spoke about raising their child as a single mother.
"When you've been a parent for 11 years and you've done it alone, you don't have romantic ideals, because you have a practical understanding that you can do it by yourself," she explained to the WSJ. "The romantic idea of meeting your person and having a storybook family life that looks like the model you grew up with — that doesn't really exist for me."
I Am Heath Ledger premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 23, and will hit select theaters on May 3 before airing on Spike TV on May 17 at 10:00 PM.