Heath Ledger’s legacy continues as stellar jury chooses next scholarship winner
In the months leading up to the death of beloved Australian actor Heath Ledger, he was working on two big budget films that would ultimately define his busy filmmaking career in Australia and Hollywood.
He worked hard as always, lived in a rented apartment in Soho, New York, worked on The black Knight and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and find time for ex-partner Michelle Williams and their baby girl Matilda.
On his way to Hollywood at age 19 and played by Mel Gibson in The Patriot, Ledger, 28, was at the peak of his career when his life was tragically cut short in 2008 after an accidental overdose of prescription drugs.
The entertainment world and its Australian family have been devastated.
To retain all that was Heath Ledger, a scholarship was founded in 2009 in his name by Susie Dobson and casting director Ann Fay (his father Kim is a patron), and every year since then one lucky aspiring actor has the chance to spend 12 months abroad learning the trade Ledger made so easy.
Judging the last five contenders for this year’s Australians in Film richest actor award of $ 50,000 is literally the who’s who of cinema as we know it.
They include Chris Hemsworth (Thor, Extraction), Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom, Silver Linings Playbook), award-winning British casting director Nina Gold (Star wars, The crown), acclaimed director Rachel Perkins (Bran Nude Dae, Mystery Road) and American actor Alia Shawkat (Development stopped).
In the 10th year of the award, AiF Executive Director Peter Ritchie said: “We are delighted with the caliber of the HLS jury this year. They join a growing list of distinguished former judges to help find the next generation of young Australian film talent ready to burst onto screens around the world!
“The spirit of leaving home and dreaming big internationally is what Heath did many years ago. This scholarship pursues that dream and connects us all in a very special way, ”said Ritchie.
The ‘extremely transformative’ Heath Ledger scholarship
The scholarship is awarded to an emerging Australian actor who demonstrates extraordinary ability and dedication to his craft and who has international aspirations in his career and / or training.
2018 recipient Charmaine Bingwa (The good fight, Emancipation), says the scholarship has been “vastly transformative,” providing the chance to study and train in Los Angeles for 12 months.
“It’s professionally catapulting and personally rewarding. I am so grateful for Heath’s legacy of creative genius and personal generosity which continues to open doors for Australian talent, ”said Bingwa.
The Heath Ledger Scholarship, which has been awarded 10 times, has proven to accelerate the opening of some of Hollywood’s most important and influential doors.
The previous winners present an impressive work. Bella Heathcote (Relic, Pieces of her), Cody Fern (Eden, American crime story), Ashleigh Cummings (NOS4A2, pronounced Nosferatu, an American supernatural horror television series, Citadel) and Mojean Aria (See, Reminiscence).
‘Whenever I’m alive is when I’m on set’
Ledger’s passion for acting began at a young age, dropping out of school at age 16 to move to Sydney to pursue his acting career, scoring a role in a soap opera. Sweat in 1996, where he played a gay cyclist.
He broke through in 1999 with leading roles in Hollywood teen comedy 10 things I hate about you and the acclaimed Australian film Two hands, directed by Gregor Jordan.
After The story of a knight in 2001 he became the next ‘it’ boy Monster ball, The four feathers and Ned kelly.
The highlight of his career came in 2005 with his Oscar nomination for Best Actor for brokeback mountain, during which he met Williams, his co-star.
His portrayal of gay cowboy Ennis Del Mar has also won Golden Globe, BAFTA and SAG Award nominations.
brokeback mountain Director Ang Lee hailed Ledger’s performance as an acting “miracle”, reminiscent of young Marlon Brando.
Ledger, with only three years under his belt in Hollywood at the time, drew the attention of a profile on Nine’s 60 minutes in 2001 after being billed as the next Mel Gibson.
“The only thing that got me to where I’m sitting is my instincts, you know, and I’m impatient. I didn’t want to wait years to work. I just wanted to go out and do it, ”he said.
This year’s winner will be announced in mid-October.