A new trailer for the upcoming Spike documentary entitled I Am Heath Ledger reveals glimpses into the actor’s life that make the actor seem so present, the reality of his death becomes shocking all over again. It’s even more jarring when, in an interview, Ledger’s friend Ben Harper tells the camera, “Heath was the most alive human. And if it wasn’t on the edge, it didn’t interest him.”
The trailer reveals Ledger’s desire to be a director, and mythologizes his road to fame in a way that almost makes it seem inevitable, like destiny. In between footage of Ledger pointing a camera at a mirror, his childhood friend Trevor DiCarlo says:
“He was always a director, acting was just a way to get there.”
These shots are juxtaposed with scenes from groundbreaking films like Brokeback Mountain, while more interviewees explain how powerful his image was on screen. Director Ang Lee says, “Even as a supporting actor he will steal the whole show. That’s the power of Heath Ledger.” However, it seems as though the story that the documentary is pointing towards is not so simple.
The alternating clips show an extremely subtle look into internal battle going on between Ledger the director and Ledger the heartthrob. His agent Steve Alexander brings more light to the conflicting emotions that seemed to be going on behind-the-scenes, as he says, “[Ledger], kind of, almost pulled out of every film he ended up doing.” Filmmaker and close friend Matt Amato speaks directly after Alexander:
“He wanted fame, and then when he got it, he didn’t want it.”
The contrast between the Heath Ledger that the world remembers, and the Heath Ledger that only close family and friends know, brings another eerie twist to the upcoming film. It is difficult to imagine the smiling man taping his own adventures as the same man who died of an accidental overdose at age 28. The effect of strange, sad irony is amplified by the end of the trailer, which is a low-light, sideways video of the actor asking, “I’m going on a mission now… Will you come with me?”
The documentary will air for the first time on April 23rd at the Tribeca International Film Festival. It will begin its limited theatrical run on May 3rd, with a followup premiere on Spike on May 17th.