Payday Loans
Heath Ledger (1979-2008)

  1. Jason Behr, Roswell, TV, 1999-2002.       Lucky break! He auditioned for Max  but having already been part of the Fox flop,  Roar, 1997, he was voted out. Fast. Making him free for movies
  2. Ewan McGregor, Moulin Rouge! 1999.  “”I 'm  really, really bad at auditions." Ledger’s Satine would have  been Catherine Zeta-Jones.  “They didn't have to be big singers,”  director Baz Luhrmann explained, “but they had to be able to move you emotionally. Basically, Ewan and Nicole were the best for the job. That's the bottom line of it.”  Also in the Christian mix were Jake Gyllenhaal, Hugh Jackman, Ronan Keating and Keating and the Northern Irish singer-songwriter Tim Wheeler.  Oh and…  there you go, Ewan McGregor! Eight years later, Ledger was still so furious with Luhrmann  that he refused to join the next  Baz,  Australia. (Jackman was obviously never upset at all
  3. Martin Lawrence, What’s The Worst That Could Happen?  2000.       "It takes a thief to nail a crook."  But it took $13m to get Ledger was due to play the crook. Then, Lawrence did it , opposite Danny De Vito’s zillionaire,  Chicago critic Roger Ebert said they seemed to be in  different movies.
  4. Hayden Christensen, Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, 2000.
  5. Ewan McGregor, Moulin Rouge! 2001.       Or, at least, to try for them. “And I 'm  really, really bad at auditions."  His Satine would have  been Catherine Zeta-Jones.  “They didn’t have to be big singers,”  director Baz Luhrmann explained his needs, “but they had to be able to move you emotionally. Basically, Ewan and Nicole [Kidman] were the best for the job. That’s the bottom line of it.”
  6. Tobey Maguire, Spider-Man, 2001.
  7. Jeremy Sumpter, Peter Pan, 2001.     First choice for the lead... once Tobey Maguire  buffed up for  Spidey.
  8. Brendan Fraser, The Quiet American, 2001.    Or quiet Australian… Director Philip Noyce wanted his fellow Aussie in the titular rôle in a much better take on Graham Greene’s prophetic novel about Vietnam - shockingly homogenised by Joseph L Maniewicz (of all people) in the 50s. Noyce’s Michael Caine was fine at the UK journo but Fraser was as weak as Audie Murphy in ’57.
  9. Stuart Townsend, Queen of the Damned, 2001. A rush job.  Instead of filming the next two Anne Rice novels after Interview With A Vampire, Warner Bros had  an eye on the clock of their rights – and -mish-mashed them into a single sequel.  Rice hated it. So, apparently, did Cruise. He  certainly refused to reprise the vampiric  Lestat.    Wes Bentley won the gig, then quit. Josh Hartnett and Heath Ledger were seen but finally, the Irtish Townsend was selected.  He had the voice, said Rice. He also had her heart… She had created a character called Stuart Townsend in her Witching Hour book. Eleven years  before meeting him.
  10. Orlando Bloom, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. 2002.   The first one…  Director Gore Verbinski decided that due to The Lord of the Rings franchise. Bloom was more bankable than Ledger, Christian Bale, Jude Law, Ewan McGregor, Tobey Maguire, Ben Peyton (a fairly unknown UK TV actor) and Christopher Masterson. A tough role as Johnny Depp was stealing everything but the rudder as his wondrous Captain Jack Sparrow, with mascara, gold teeth and a Keith Richards’ rock ‘n’ roll shuffle.

  11. Paul Bettany, Master and Commander:  The Far Side of the World, 2003.      From the sublime...
  12. Seann William Scott, Bulletproof Monk, 2003. the ridiculous. Even the ultra cool Chow Yun-Fat seemed lost.
  13. Gerard Butler, The Phantom of the Opera, 2003.  Ledger and Hugh Jackman were the two Aussies in the titular short list of Antonio Banderas,   Michael Crawford, Meat Loaf, Matthew McConaughey, Kevin Spacey and John Travolta… and Butler.  
  14. Matt Damon, The Brothers Grimm, 2004.       Director Terry Gilliam led them swop roles once Heath preferred Jacob to Wilhelm, and vice versa for Matt. And to appease America, they became Will and Jake!
  15. Colin Farrell, Alexander, 2004.        First choice when writer-director Oliver Stone reactivated an old project he had planned for Tom Cruise  - or Val Kilmer (who stayed aboard as the hero's father). Ledger said he is the worst auditioner. "I mean, you're being judged and that consumes me. I can't relax, I'm tied in knots, so the voice is very taut and tense." And so Farrell wore "the Doris Day wig." 
  16. Chris Evans, Cellular, 2004.       Writer Larry Cohen updated his Phone Booth premise for the non-phone booth age..  This time, the shock call is on a guy's cell-phone - from a kidnapped Kim Basinger seeking help. 
  17. Ryan Philippe, Crash,  2004.       Ledger’s  talks with debuting auteur Paul Haggis  came to naught on choosing Brokeback Mountain instead.  The two films were great Oscar rivals, with Brokeback winning almost everything except Best Film which, inexplicably, went to Crash.
  18. Christian Bale, Batman Begins, 2005.
  19. Josh Brolin, No Country For Old Man, 2006.     The Coen brothers held talks with Ledger about becoming Llewelyn Moss - but he preferred “some time off.”
  20. Hugh Jackman, Australia, 2007.      “But I don’t have  a script,” said Jackman. “Forget the script,” said Nicole Kidman, “Baz Luhrmann is directing.” After various battles with Russell Crowe. Aussie director Baz Luhrman  chose Ledger, who then quit for The Joker in The  Dark Knight. Enter Jackman: "He just continues to astound in terms of his range, whether it's Boy From Oz or Wolverine," said Baz. "He's always been a leading man, but he’s moving toward being an iconic leading man - perfect for the story we're doing."  And then Heath was suddenly dead in his New York  apartment - at 28.
  21. Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell & Jude Law,  The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, 2008.     This was the Terry Gilliam  film that Ledger was on leave from when he ODed.  Depp, Farrell and Law  answered Gilliam's call when he devised a  way to complete Ledger's role   with different… beings.    "I met Heath's father and sister,"  explained Farrell, "and they were OK with it.  I did two weeks.  But it was crap. Terry’s great -  mad as a fucking brush!”

  22. Brad Pitt, The Tree of Life, 2010.    
    When  his 2005 New World  star Colin Farrell was over-booked for Terrence
    Malick’s sixth film in 40 years, he turned to Ledger for Mr O’Brien – that’s how parents were called back in the Texas day, Father, Mother, Mr, Mrs, Not Dick or Mary.  Heath Ledger was planning to direct a pet  project. He was  ill and later died.  Producer Pitt volunteered to take over, quitting the re-make of the BBC TV thriller, State of Play, 2008, for one of his all too few strong film roles.  He recognised it, inside out, almost as if it were his own memoir.  The subject? “How you grow up. And it all happens in this blink of a lifetime, surrounded by the realms of unimaginable time and space…”  He recalled having  “a great experience with Terry, great conversations with Terry... a kind, competitive, deep-thinking man. And the whole style of the way he approached filmmaking was unlike anything I had done before.”  But even with a harsh buzz cut, Pitt was just too much of a  nice guy to be a tough,  intolerant father.

  23. Colin Farrell, Fright Night, 2010.      For the third time,  Farrell took over a role from  the late Ledger.   This time, - a horror movie for Spielberg’s DeamWorks.   And when he didn’t think one of Farrell’s make-ups was scary enough, The Master insisted:  “Put the shark-like jaw back.”
  24. Tom Hardy, Mad Max: Fury Road, 2012.    Every tough guy from Mel Gibson himself in 2003 (before discovering The Passion of Christ, anti-Semitism and LA ostracism) to Ledger (all set in 2006), James Cameron regular Michael Biehn, actor-producer Liam Fountain (the titular Mad Max Renegade in his 2011 short), Jeremy Renner and Channing Tatum were up and down many a flagpole before creator George Miller won his budget. Hardy wore Mel’s old jacket and Charlize Theron stole the wheelie Western as a Mad Maxine. No way to treat Max Rockatansky after a 30-year hiatus, George!
  25. Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher, 2014.   The Faustian wrestling drama too so long to hit the mat that Heath Ledger) and Ryan Gosling were substituted by Ruffalo and Channing Tayum as the Olympic gold medallist wrestling brothers involved with a twisted zillionaire played by Steve Carrel - in make-up and prosthetics that were more disconcerting than convincing.

  26. Eddie Redmayne, The Trial Of The Chicago 7, 2019.  
    Thirteen years earlier, Steven Spielberg told the supreme scenarist Aaron Sorkin he wanted to make  a film about the riots at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago and the insane  trial of seven of the Vietnam war protestors.  “Count me in!”  said Sorkin, who had no idea what Spielberg was talking about.  He soon  found out and started his script in 2007 - then a writers’ strike delayed everything. Meanwhile, Spielberg cast Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman.  Will Smith had no time to be Bobby Seale. Heath Ledger ODed the day before his meeting to discuss playing Tom Hayden (who would wed Jane Fonda in 1973; eleven days later, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Spielberg’s choice for the Seven’s lawyer William Kuntsler, also ODed).  Other directors like Peter Berg, Paul Greengrass, Gary Ross and Ben Stiller (!!!) came and went. So many years shot by that Spielberg was able to see Sorkin’s 2017 helming debut, Molly's Game,
    and book him to direct his scenario. Paramount lost interest so it became the first Netflix acquisition to live up to its hype, even though it was far from 100% factual.  “This is not a documentary,” explained Chicago critic Richard Roeper. “It's a dramatisation of events that resonates with great power while containing essential truths, and it's one of the best movies of the year.”



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