Heath Ledger Planned on Halting Acting Career to Direct Two Films

Heath Ledger Planned on Halting Acting Career to Direct Two Films

There is Oscr buzz for “Dark Knights'” Heath: Yet here is the director we never knew By Jeffrey Jolson for Hollywood Today

HOLLYWOOD, CA (RUSHPRNEWS) 7/14/08 – Heath Ledger was planning to take two years off from acting to learn to be a director, according to Todd Haynes, director of the stylistic Bob Dylan biopic “I’m Not There,” which was one of Heath Ledgers last pictures – making suicide or any death the farthest thing from his mind.

“I first approached Heath after being stunned by ‘Brokeback Mountain.’ Heath was really excited about (‘I’m Not There’). Yet at the time he was planning to take two years off from acting and move his attentions and amazing skills to directing.”

Haynes continued “He was going to make a drama on the life of (influential and troubled British musician) Nick Drake, whose music he loved. But he ran into the same obstacles I did, which was the traditional demands of the biopic. He found it inconceivable to try and stuff dialog into Nick Drake’s mouth on what he might have said in the last days of his life. So he identified with the creative strategies involved in this picture,” Haynes said in his commentary on his acclaimed, Oscar-nominated “I’m Not There” (Cate Blanchett, Best Supporting Actress). “That is exactly why he decided to break his vow on ‘non-acting’ to be in this film.”

Yet Ledger was to get two more irresistible roles that held off his planned move ti directing. His last acting projects were “Batman Begins” follow-up, “The Dark Knight,” in theaters July 18 and Terry Gilliam’s “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.” On the latter, Ledger died midway through production. Ledger’s role of Tony has been augmented by Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell portraying physically changed Tony transformations as he travels through dimensions. The film is in post-production with the vague release date of 2009. Good thing it is a sci-fi fantasy film that allowed for this strategy so the film could be completed.

The Nick Drake film was not the only one Ledger was planning to direct. It was only after his death on January 22 that the extent of Heath Ledger’s interest in directing became known.

The 28-year-old also planned on directing the film adaption of Walter Tevis’s 1983 novel “The Queen’s Gambit,” with “Juno” star Ellen Page.

Tevis wrote the books or short stories that were turned into the films “The Color of Money” and “The Hustler” for Paul Newman and “The Man Who Fell To Earth” with David Bowie.

The chess screenplay, written by Alan Scott, chronicled the career of Beth Harmon, a troubled chess prodigy who battled an addiction to prescription drugs.

Ledger had been involved in the project for the past 12 months, Scott told the Daily Telegraph. In addition to directing, he was also to have starred in it with Page. “The movie is about chess, and what is a little known fact is Heath was very close to being on the grandmaster level,” Scott said. “He was a chess whiz, and he intended to get his grandmaster rating before he started shooting the picture.”

A section of the 109- page script, published in UK newspapers, reveals how closely the fictional Beth’s reality mirrored Ledger’s in the final few months of his life.

“There is noise coming from everywhere in the house. Her suitcase lies open on the bed, clothes spilling everywhere,” the script reads.

“There are at least a dozen bottles of tranquilizer pills lying in the suitcase, stuffed into every corner, each with Mexican labels. She opens one of these, grabs a bottle of liquor, and drinks direct from the bottle to swallow two pills.”

Ledger, who reportedly had trouble sleeping, was said to have taken regular trips to Washington State Park, where he played chess with the late-night gamers there.

“I saw him a few times, mostly last summer. He seemed like a nice guy,” 63-year-old Earl Biggs said.

“He’d usually lose. We played for a couple of dollars and he’d lose a few dollars. He just had fun, he loved it. We’d talk trash talk at the chess table . . . we’d say things to him like, ‘How can you make that move! How can you make a move like that!’ And he’d just laugh.”

His last acting projects were “Batman Begins” follow-up “The Dark Knight,” in theaters July 18 and Terry Gilliam’s “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.” After Ledger’s death midway through production, Ledger’s role of Tony has been augmented by Johhny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell portraying physically changed Tony transformations as he travels through dimensions. The film is in post-production with the vague release date of 2009. Good thing it is a sci-fi fantasy film that allowed for this strategy so the film could be completed.