There’s always a delicate line to be walked after the death of a celebrity in determining how much of his or her life should stay private within the family and how much is OK for the eyes of the public. Heath Ledger’s tragic death was nine years ago, but that debate is just beginning for him, as a documentary set to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival before airing on Spike TV will allow us all a look into his most private moments.
The good news about Ledger’s situation is that his family is fully on board. In fact, his sister, Kate Ledger, told People that she sees the soon-to-be public footage like a last gift that Ledger left for his daughter, who was only 2 when he died.
“You can tell her about things, but with her being able to visually see his movement and his expressions, it’s almost like he had actually filmed the documentary himself and pieced it together for her,” Kate Ledger said, adding that Matilda, now 11, is Ledger’s greatest legacy. “Everything she does, her movement I suppose, reminds me of Heath. I think the first five years after Heath passed, every time I’d see Matilda [I] would be in tears. Now, I am really happy that I am at a stage that I can see Matilda and be happy and feel her daddy’s energy through her.”
The documentary explores Ledger’s rise to fame after, unemployed and dreaming of being an actor, he went after the lead role in 10 Things I Hate About You and landed it despite being a complete unknown.
“My friend had just written 10 Things I Hate About You and they were just lacking young actors to read for it,” Ledger’s friend and roommate, filmmaker Matt Amato, said. “I talked to my friend who wrote it and said, ‘This kid is staying here, and he’s unemployed and no one really wants an unemployed roommate.’ I was quickly developing a scheme to get him moving… The next day he said, ‘I like your friend’s script. I would like to play Patrick.’ That was the lead. It kind of dawned on me who we were dealing with right away… I didn’t discourage him, I just kind of came to my own conclusions about his confidence and his ambition — that it was well placed.”
Ledger’s fame exploded after that, but he was never quite comfortable with the spotlight. He turned to drugs, and an accidental overdose caused his death in 2008.
In addition to Ledger’s sister, friends from the industry and childhood friends have spoken to media about his documentary, and no one seems to have a problem with it. That’s a good sign that the once-private footage will honor his life instead of putting things on display that should have stayed within the family.