A couple of separate interviews here.
HARD CANDY FOR LEDGER
Fri, September 8, 2006
By JIM SLOTEK, TORONTO SUN
It turns out heroin and sex have one thing in common, at least in the world of movie censors -- penetration is a no-no.
"I did one scene they didn't end up using," says Heath Ledger of the junkie-romance Candy, which debuts tonight at the Toronto filmfest. "It was near the end of the movie when I inject again (after being clean). There was a shot that we had, a tight shot of my arm, and I slipped the needle in and pulled back until you saw the blood, and then they went off it onto my face.
"I actually injected. It had water colour and sugar in it to make it look watery brown. And then we found out that was the difference between a (Mature) rating and an R. The penetration. When it looked like it was going in and it didn't really go in, that was okay."
Based on a best-selling novel by Australian Luke Davies (who also scripted), Candy is the story of a junkie poet (Ledger) and his artist girlfriend Candy (Abbie Cornish) and their descent in acts called "Heaven," "Earth" and "Hell."
Ledger was at TIFF last year with another tragic romance you might have heard of called Brokeback Mountain. You'd normally follow something like that with a comedy, and Ledger did with the movie Casanova.
"That's why I had the energy to be dark again, because I'd been in bloody Venice drinking too much wine and eating."
By way of research, he says "Abbie and I went to this narcotics users association in Australia, and we met a guy who'd been addicted to heroin for, like, 20 years. And he took us through the steps of how to shoot up. He took a prosthetic arm with veins and blood bags and showed us how to find the vein and the angle to slip the needle in.
"I've smoked pot before, and I know what it feels like to be high. But I've never been addicted to anything other than cigarettes, although that's quite a fuckin' addiction. Also the subject of heroin ... there's so many television documentaries and shows and movies and books, you kind of feel you know how they do it, even if you've never been anywhere near it."
Candy is actually the first Australian movie Ledger has been in for eight years -- quite a long time to bury his Aussie accent. "And I'm constantly looking for material in Australia just for that reason. It's so liberating to perform without an accent. But all the good writers and filmmakers in Australia get swept up and go to Hollywood. So we're kind of left with the very fresh and up-and-coming filmmakers." (Candy director Neil Armfield is a veteran theatre director new to feature films).
Candy marked a hiatus of another sort as well. It was the last movie Ledger would do for 18 months -- a paternity leave he breaks next Tuesday when he starts filming Todd Haynes' Bob Dylan-inspired surrealist movie I'm Not There with Michelle Williams, his fiancee and mother of their 11-month-old daughter Matilda. In fact, he found out she was pregnant while filming Candy.
I'm Not There (for which Dylan has agreed to provide music), has been called a biopic. "But no one's playing Bob Dylan. Even the title, I'm Not There ... well, he's not there. There are sort of Dylan -inspired characters, but Cate Blanchett looks the most like Bob Dylan. In fact, she looks exactly like Bob Dylan. It's very surrealistic and incredibly ambitious. I'm more curious about this than anything else I've been a part of."
Come January, he starts playing the Joker, in Christopher Nolan's next Batman film The Dark Knight. "It's definitely going to stump people. I think it'll be more along the lines of how the Joker was meant to be in the comics, darker and more sinister."
As for the maternity/paternity leave "we've just been living in Brooklyn and really committing our time to Matilda. We've just been letting it kind of consume us. We wanted to distance ourselves, and we couldn't think of anything better to do than wake up to play with our child.
"That's the biggest gift this industry has given us, is the ability to do that."
Ledger finds balance at own pace
Sep. 8, 2006.
There seems to be no danger of the phenomenal success of Brokeback Mountain going to Heath Ledger's head.
The gangly Aussie actor doesn't set high expectations for himself, so his Oscar nomination for playing closeted cowboy Ennis Del Mar is being treated like a bonus for a job well done, rather than his just dues.
"My expectations are always very low about how movies that I'm in are going to be received," Ledger said last night, relaxing in a hotel suite after arriving in Toronto from Montreal.
"It was a really pleasant surprise."
The role has opened doors for him. The 27-year-old Ledger had been marked early in his career for heartthrob and action hero roles, in movies like A Knight's Tale (2001) and The Four Feathers (2002).
They didn't sit well with him but the experiences led to the first of what he calls multiple epiphanies as to how he really wants his career to go, seeking more challenging and interesting roles.
He's been in Montreal preparing for next week's start of shooting of his segment of I'm Not There, Todd Haynes' unusual Bob Dylan biopic that's based on artistic impressions of the rock legend. Also in the film is Michelle Williams, Ledger's spouse, and their fellow Aussie Cate Blanchett, who also plays a version of Dylan.
After that Ledger will stretch even further, playing the villainous joker in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, another vision of the Batman story.
But right now he's talking about Candy, a film in the Toronto festival directed by Australia's Neil Armfield, in which Ledger plays a junkie poet heading into a skid alongside his devoted girlfriend Candy, played by Abbie Cornish:
Q: One of the hardest parts of being an actor is fighting against what people want you to be as opposed to what you want to be. How have you found it that way?
A: Yeah! It's a struggle with artists in general, conforming to commerce and people's expectations and opinions. I definitely try to stay true to what pleases me and what's going to give me growth. I try.
Q: Did you have any epiphany where you said, "I'm going to start taking control of my life and do the roles I want to?"
A: I did, actually. I've had a couple of them. It was right around the time when I was doing A Knight's Tale and my face was on the posters and it was also a little frustrating for me because I felt like people were able to see my performance when I didn't feel like it was ready to be seen. It felt like I was being pushed out in such a massive way at a time when I didn't really know what I was doing.
That was one epiphany, to put the brakes on. And I also felt my career was being handed to me on a platter and I didn't feel I deserved it. I decided to stamp it out a little bit, and put it in reverse, and see if I could start from scratch.
Q: What was your second epiphany?
A: It was very similar to the first, and the second and the third ... and I continue to have them. They're all based around striving to be true to myself. To be true to humanity and try to tell stories about people, not to just be part of a plot or an advertisement campaign.
Q: Your character of Dan in Candy is amazing. Did you base him on any other character you've seen, oranybody you knew?
A: Dan was inspired by Luke Davies, the author of the book Candy and the co-screenwriter of the film. He was a drug addict for a period of time in his life. He was around on the set all the time to prep us on how to operate. I was so excited to be working with my own accent again that I thought that would bring enough of the character. It had been eight years since I used my own accent (in a movie).
Q: Abbie Cornish and you work together very well as the couple.
A: Yes, she's a very explosive, instinctual and exciting actor to work with. I've never really worked with anyone who can go from zero to 60 in one second. She quite actually goes from just relaxing and talking and mucking around to that birthing scene. Just in two seconds flat.
Q: That's a tough scene, the baby one. It's going to upset some viewers. It upset me watching it.
A: It's a pretty heavy scene. I actually found out four weeks before that Michelle and I were having a baby. It wasn't the nicest of scenes to be playing.
Q: I guess everybody asks you this, but have you ever had experience with drugs?
A: Yeah, but not heroin. Not heavy drugs like that. I've smoked pot and I know what it's like to be high. The only thing I've been addicted to is cigarettes.
Q: Can you tell me about playing Bob Dylan and working with Todd Haynes in I'm Not There?
A: I'm one of about seven people who are kind of playing him. I'm actually playing an actor who plays in a movie as a character, and his character is a Bob Dylanesque kind of guy played by Christian Bale. So I'm kind of playing Christian Bale, who's not playing Bob Dylan. Michelle is actually working on it, as well. She's shooting as we speak. And I saw Cate Blanchett the other day on set and it's just striking. She looks like Bob Dylan, from a distance. It's really quite remarkable.
Todd is an exciting filmmaker. And everyone I've spoken with so far has said that he's a genius and it's the most creative process they've all been a part of. I'm really excited about it. I start on Tuesday. I've just been rehearsing by myself in Montreal, working on accents. I have to come up with two accents: I have my character and his character's accent.
Q: How about playing the Joker in The Dark Knight? I have to admit, I would never have thought of you for the role.
A: I wouldn't have thought of me, either. But it's obviously not going to be what Jack Nicholson did. It's going to be more nuanced and dark and more along the lines of a Clockwork Orange kind of feel. Which is, I think, what the comic book was after: less about his laugh and more about his eyes.
Q: Do you think that playing the difficult role of Ennis in Brokeback Mountain made people view you in a different light?
A: Definitely. It really opened a lot of doors. Since those doors have been opened, Todd Haynes' film and the Joker are really the only two things I've reaped from it, but it's been good