Shekhar Kapur, who directed Heath Ledger in the 2002 epic “The Four Feathers,” has paid tribute to the late actor as the 15th anniversary of his death approaches this weekend.
Ledger had a short but brilliant career, receiving Oscar and BAFTA Best Actor nominations for Ang Lee’s “Brokeback Mountain” (2005). He was found dead on January 22, 2008. He was 28 years old. He won both an Oscar and a BAFTA for his posthumous supporting role as the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight”.
At the time of Ledger’s death, Kapoor was working with him on a satire on the media titled “The Nine O’Clock War” and was one of the last people to speak to the actor.
“Heath and I became very close. He would write to me and he would call me my brother from another mother, we became that close,” Kapoor said diversity. “Heath, even for his young age, was a very spiritual person and our conversations went through ideas of space and ideas of consciousness and all that, and he tried to bring those ideas to film. And if you ever see the film [“The Four Feathers”] Again, you get the sense that there’s a lot more depth to his performance than Harry Faversham playing.”
In “The Four Feathers,” based on AEW Mason’s 1902 novel, Ledger plays Faversham, a British army officer accused of cowardice who is freed by a military operation in the Sudan.
Kapoor said he went to New York to meet Ledger to discuss “The Nine O’Clock War.” The actor had just returned from a shoot in Vancouver and said he was tired. They planned to meet the next day for a laser massage. Kapoor was accompanied by his friend, author and alternative medicine practitioner Deepak Chopra.
“I remember going home and Deepak Chopra sat me down. He said, ‘Heath Ledger is dead.’ And I said, ‘What do you mean, he’s dead? He is coming to see me soon.’ Then we switched on the television,” said Kapoor. “And then I got a call from the New York police. They say the last call on her cell phone was mine. And what do I know about it? I think they were just trying to check his passing situation.”
Kapoor insisted that he and Ledger “became extraordinarily close during that time.” He added that Ledger’s presence was “stunning” and was “deeply moved” by his honesty.
“He was good at expressing himself in anything. I remember her saying no to ‘Alexander’ when we were together in Rome. I said to Heath, ‘Alexander, ‘Oliver Stone, why don’t you call it?’ And he said, ‘Sekhar, I can’t find the winner in me,'” Kapoor said. “But then when he said yes to Joker, and I thought how did he find the Joker in him? Actually, Joker is famous not for his cruelty, but for his Because of compassion. When you see that there is a man who is killing people, and yet there is compassion, understanding and wisdom in his eyes. And so he is relatable.
“I think it definitely took a lot out of him — believing you were the Joker, which he always did. He will believe in what he is doing and saying and acting on screen. It must have destroyed him,” Kapoor said. “I knew that, we were in constant contact.”
The filmmaker said that Ledger sent him initial sketches of the Joker, but once filming began, he became the full character.
“My message to the fans is, some of us are lucky to have seen him and even luckier to work with him,” Kapoor said.
Kapoor’s new film “What’s Love Got To Do With It?”, starring Lily James and Emma Thompson, begins its global rollout in late January.