Thursday, 31 January 2008

Jake to be in a movie tribute to Heath? And Young Jake

There has been speculation surrounding what will happen to Heath's work-in-progress, Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus, with one rumour suggesting that Johnny Depp may take over Heath's role. However, last night the story emerged that Jake Gyllenhaal, along with Johnny Depp, Sean Penn and Christian Bale, may each play a scene in the film to show a transition to Heath's character whilst also creating a lasting tribute to their friend.

True or not, who knows, but what a 'solution' to a dreadful dilemma facing the producers of the film. Although, the story also says that a main factor for the film perhaps ending here and now is that its cast and crew have lost all heart for it and miss Heath too much.

This is what the story, as originally reported in the Sun but reproduced here, has to say: 'An insider on the film said: “Heath’s character falls into a magic mirror four times during the film. It allows Terry to change the actor easily if he wants to. Jonny, Jake, Sean and Christian were all friends of Heath’s and would love to be involved. The director and other big wigs on the film are mulling over the idea, but it’s likely to go ahead in what would be intended as a tribute to Ledger. One of the main sticking points isn’t so much this, it’s how upset Ledger’s co-stars LILY COLE and CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER are. The rest of the film crew are also deeply upset. Heath was such a lovely guy. Everyone is finding it difficult to continue with the project."'

Thanks to friend Roco for allowing me to share here his lovingly-produced montage of Heath.

Yesterday, we enjoyed truly stunning pictures of action man Jake carrying bikes, cycling, chopping wood and rowing a boat. Today, by contrast, pictures of a young Jake and Maggie from their highschool year book have found their way to the net, revealing that Jake was a member of a disco club - although, having watched Jake's turn on the Ellen karaoke video, I'm not that surprised - and played a dentist from your nightmares in a school play. Here is a picture of Jake in the 9th grade, which would make him - and I had to look this up on Wiki - 14 or 15 years old.

And finally, some photographs

After the comments yesterday following the Interview outtakes, here is 'the jumper' again.

And these two photographs are dedicated to Pia with love.

Includes pictures from IHJ.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Pure Jake - in good times and in bad times

Jake Gyllenhaal has the uncanny and mysteriously wonderful ability to turn up just when you need him - not necessarily in the flesh (a moment's silence for an appreciative thought) but often in photographs. Today, thanks to IHJ, here are outtakes from Jake's shoot for the October issue of Interview. These photographs (works of art seems a better name for them) were taken by Mark Seliger in Santa Clarita, which is just to the north west of Burbank and San Fernando, Los Angeles.

Whether in a boat, riding a bike (with or without a hazardous saddle), chopping wood or just standing around being in the business of looking beautiful, Jake is a sight for sore eyes.

Today, People published a source from the Brothers' set. Who can know for sure, but this may be a semi-official response to the calls from some quarters for Jake to give a statement regarding the loss of his friend - although why Jake is expected to make his grief public is not something I can fathom, especially considering how private Heath was. This is what People had to say:

'Heath Ledger's sudden death has been especially tough on his good friend – and Brokeback Mountain costar – Jake Gyllenhaal. The actor, who is godfather to Ledger's two-year-old daughter Matilda, has been devastated by last week's news. Says one Gyllenhaal friend, "Jake is taking this harder than most people." Nowhere is that more apparent than on the New Mexico set of Gyllenhaal's latest movie, Brothers. "This has had a strong personal effect on [Jake]," says a set source. The insider adds that Gyllenhaal left the set immediately after learning of Ledger's Jan. 22 death – but he flew back on a commercial flight to shoot an additional scene on Thursday. "He was there, but he wasn't with us. It was obviously a major trauma," says the movie source. "These guys were very close. [Jake] was sitting in the director's chair staring off into space." Gyllenhaal has been off since shooting that scene, and was photographed Saturday looking subdued with girlfriend Reese Witherspoon in Los Angeles. Set sources say director Jim Sheridan is shooting around the grieving actor during his personal leave.'

'The 27-year-old's somber mood is a sharp contrast to the happier times on the set of Brothers. During one intense early prison scene, Gyllenhaal jokingly reached into his pocket and took out a picture of his Brokeback beau to stick on the prison wall. "Like those prisoners put [loved ones] on the wall, but Jake's was Heath Ledger," one set source recalls. "That was hilarious. It was a nice moment." The source adds, "When you think back on it now, it's touching."'

True or not, the very idea of Jake messing around on set like this makes me smile, especially as it involves Heath. On another level, it makes me want to see Brothers even more, maybe something to do with the image of Jake in a bunkbed in a cell with a tattoo, talking of which:

Judging by how many people emailed me today to tell me about this article in Dissident Voice, I can see it has struck a note with many people. This is a beautifully written, personal tribute to Heath, by Gary Leupp, a Professor of History and Adjunct Professor of Comparative Religion at Tufts University, Massachusetts: 'I was not the most ardent fan; I saw only three of Ledger’s films. But I found his performance as Ennis Del Mar in the epic Brokeback Mountain — a study in quiet, lonely, dignified, protracted pain soothed intermittently by sublime moments of intimacy — was as soaring as the film’s Santaolalla soundtrack. Some criticized the film for lack of realism — the initial physical episode between Ennis and Jack was indeed implausibly executed — but the performances rang true. They stuck in your head, made you think and feel.'

In his article, the professor also respects Jake's silence, even if this does little to help us as individuals who want a leader of likemind to express our love for Heath and our feeling at some of the abusive outrages we have seen over the last week: 'Jake Gyllenhaal is reportedly filming in New Mexico. He has issued no statement so far, a conspicuous void in the posthumous closure process. One report says he is too upset about Heath’s death to talk to the media. (This is in contrast to Ledger’s family which conducted a very dignified brief interview with the press outside their Perth home within hours of his death.) He seems like such a good guy, a Buddhist seeking mindfulness, politicized, working with World Can’t Wait. I feel for him and respect his silence. On the other hand I wish he would vent his pain on behalf of all of us who at least in small quantity share it, and might derive some comfort in his thoughts.' I also believe Jake should be allowed the comfort of his silence.

Includes pictures from IHJ and Bruno Press.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Two years ago today - Ennis Del Mar and the Joker - celebrated

Many of us remember the day that we first saw Brokeback Mountain - when an event, in whatever form, changes or alters your life in someway, it's hard to forget. Today is my second anniversary. I remember celebrating the date last year - I could never have imagined that, in 2008, 29 January would coincide with the first week's anniversary of Heath's death. But it has, and so, in remembering and celebrating the glorious fallout that Brokeback Mountain showered on my life (hopefully never to be undone), this time I am also remembering and cherishing its two men.

Brokeback Mountain's 'classic' status has perhaps been sealed, even for those still in doubt, by the tragedy of last Tuesday. There is also a good possibility that Heath's death will tempt new audiences to see this film and another gang of Brokies will measure their lives against Jack's dream in Brokeback, find them wanting, and change them. We have a lot to thank Heath for, and not just Heath, Jake too. And all those involved with Brokeback Mountain, at every level.

I have a real sense of inadequacy when it comes to expressing what Brokeback Mountain means to me. So better to look at an essay or elegy such as this, which, written in the aftermath of Heath's loss, bears witness to the achievement of Heath, Jake and Ang in creating this 'imperishable' masterpiece. Here are some quotes that spoke to me.

'In their comments about the actor, some, seeking to express their sense of loss, have said that it's especially sad because he was at the start of what promised to be a great career. I understand what they mean, but we should recognize that, because of his commitment to his art, Heath Ledger already had attained greatness.'

'While I'm unable to aspire to poetry, I can appreciate and attempt to describe the beauty of what Heath Ledger did in Brokeback Mountain. His performance is poetry enough. I think it's appropriate to honor the man who did so much to make the film so powerful with an elegy recognizing and celebrating what he achieved.'

'The sensitivity and beauty with which Ledger and Gyllenhaal present the men is deeply moving; Gyllenhaal gently embraces and reassures Ledger, who gradually relaxes and embraces him, showing not merely the sexual desire, but more importantly the deep need to be close to another man which motivates both men. At least for those with eyes to see and hearts to feel, the scene is as beautiful and moving as any depicting a man and a woman.'

'His incredible ability in projecting Ennis's raw rage culminates in the awful final argument with Jack, when Ennis threatens to kill the man he loves for needing sexual involvement with other men, since Ennis's fear and shame have caused him to refuse to accept Jack's invitation to live together. It's frightening, especially in light of Ledger's death, to think of the cost such acting must have exacted. I'm fortunate, in my teaching, to be able to teach the astonishing poetry of Emily Dickinson; Ledger's acting spontaneously brings to mind the opening line of one of her most searingly confessional poems, in which she demands, "Dare you see a Soul at the White Heat?" In Ledger's performance as Ennis, we do. Though I want to resist involvement in speculation about the causes of his death, it's impossible not to have noted that some have speculated that he put so much into preparing for and incarnating himself in every role he took on that it may have led to impossible stress, sleeplessness, and dependence on medicines. I have no idea whether this is correct, but it's possible to think it, given the intensity with which Ledger gave himself over to representing the torment of Ennis del Mar.'

This elegy was written by Eric Patterson, an associate professor of American studies and American literature at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. 'He is the author of a newly published book On Brokeback Mountain: Meditations about Masculinity, Fear, and Love in the Story and the Film.' This title is available for Europeans here.

Philip French's tribute for Heath in Sunday's Observer newspaper in the UK culminated with: 'Ledger inhabits his character to an overwhelming degree as he charts Ennis's painful emotional progress over two decades. The visit to the home of his dead lover's parents, where he silently inspects Jack's old bedroom, is among the most poignant, delicately understated sequences in movie history.' Without doubt, this is the most painful scene that I have ever seen in any film, and I doubt that will change through my life. It's good to see it recognised here.

It's a sad state of affairs, but it's true, that many people, especially men, maybe even our men, have yet to see Brokeback Mountain, put off by its tabloid tag as the 'gay cowboy movie'. This is what was addressed in Tony Parson's tribute in the UK's Mirror newspaper: 'I have an amazing number of mates who have never seen Brokeback Mountain because it's "that movie about two gay cowboys". What they are missing is an almost perfect storm of talent. Brokeback Mountain was directed by the great Ang Lee from a classic short story by Annie Proulx. It has an Oscar-winning screenplay by Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry (a great novelist himself and author of The Last Picture Show), and Jake Gyllenhaal will never be better than he was as rodeo cowboy Jack Twist.'

'Most of all, what my friends are missing is the portrayal of ranch hand Ennis Del Mar by Heath Ledger. A performance that ranks up there with Al Pacino in the first Godfather film, Robert de Niro in the second Godfather, Brando when he was young and thin, Montgomery Clift in From Here To Eternity, and James Dean in the three films he made before his early death. Heath Ledger truly was as good as that, and nobody who has seen Brokeback Mountain could ever doubt it. Heath Ledger had the kind of talent that only comes along once every 20 years and his death is a horrible waste.'

Brokeback Mountain is a film you rarely see the like of but Heath had more to offer us. We were all looking forward to the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight, many of us had some red carpet expectations as well. By the time The Dark Knight is released - in July - we will no doubt be ready to celebrate Heath's portrayal of this iconic figure. The film's director Christopher Nolan doesn't have the luxury of the time. He is currently working on his film in post-production and has to cope with the raw pain of seeing Heath on film everyday.

Here is part of Chris' tribute to Heath in Newsweek: 'One night, as I'm standing on LaSalle Street in Chicago, trying to line up a shot for "The Dark Knight," a production assistant skateboards into my line of sight. Silently, I curse the moment that Heath first skated onto our set in full character makeup. I'd fretted about the reaction of Batman fans to a skateboarding Joker, but the actual result was a proliferation of skateboards among the younger crew members. If you'd asked those kids why they had chosen to bring their boards to work, they would have answered honestly that they didn't know. That's real charisma—as invisible and natural as gravity. That's what Heath had.'

'Heath was bursting with creativity. It was in his every gesture. He once told me that he liked to wait between jobs until he was creatively hungry. Until he needed it again. He brought that attitude to our set every day. There aren't many actors who can make you feel ashamed of how often you complain about doing the best job in the world. Heath was one of them.'

'When you get into the edit suite after shooting a movie, you feel a responsibility to an actor who has trusted you, and Heath gave us everything. As we started my cut, I would wonder about each take we chose, each trim we made. I would visualize the screening where we'd have to show him the finished film—sitting three or four rows behind him, watching the movements of his head for clues to what he was thinking about what we'd done with all that he'd given us. Now that screening will never be real. I see him every day in my edit suite. I study his face, his voice. And I miss him terribly.'

I'd been looking forward to my anniversary Brokeback Mountain post - I would never have dreamed... Includes pictures from IHJ and AP.

Monday, 28 January 2008

SAG Awards 2008 and 2006 - Jake in Brentwood

Last night, the Screen Actors Guild (or SAG) Awards were held in Los Angeles and the absence of Heath Ledger was tangible. His presence was felt in the auditorium, not least because of the wonderful gesture of Daniel Day-Lewis, whom, already having expressed his sadness on the Oprah Winfrey Show, dedicated his Best Actor award for There Will Be Blood to Heath. Here is Daniel's speech.

Afterwards, Daniel's tribute to Heath continued: 'Asked backstage why he'd decided to dedicate the award to Ledger, he said, "I suppose that's all I've been thinking about for the last few days. I never met him. I thought he was beautiful. I just have a very strong feeling that I would have liked him very much as a man. ...I admired him very much."'

According to the MTV report, 'Ryan Gosling and his sister wore black ribbons, in honor of the dearly departed. Kristen Stewart had to fight back tears on the red carpet. Daniel Day-Lewis dedicated his Best Actor award to Heath Ledger, and when the show's "In Memoriam" segment closed with a shot of the actor in "Brokeback Mountain," one final moment of stunned silence swept over the near-funereal Shrine Auditorium... "I think it's an important topic to bring up, and I think he needs to be celebrated tonight with the rest of us," insisted "Hairspray" star Nikki Blonski. "I never got to meet him, but being here tonight at the SAG Awards, I feel like his presence is here."'

These SAG Awards are a reminder of the same event two years ago when, in a rehearsal for the Oscars, Brokeback Mountain failed to win anything despite its lavish nominations. Nevertheless, Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger on the stage, discussing their film, were a sight for sore eyes. This is, therefore, the perfect opportunity to repost some pictures from this event, including some of my favourite photographs of Jake in the spotlight.

Jake in Brentwood, 27 January

Following the pictures of Jake out for a walk in LA over the weekend, more photos have emerged of Jake out buying coffee in Brentwood yesterday (27 January).

Includes pictures from IHJ.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Heath's memorial service in LA and Jake is back in LA

Yesterday, a private memorial service was held for Heath Ledger in Los Angeles, a day after a similar event in New York City, allowing those closest to Heath, on both sides of the continent, express their grief, before Heath's funeral at home in Perth, Australia.

According to an account in People: 'An intimate memorial for Heath Ledger, attended by immediate family and close friends including former girlfriend Naomi Watts, was held in Los Angeles on Saturday night just hours after the actor's death was marked at a New York event. A discreet 30-minute service was held at Westwood Village Memorial Park, Australia's Channel 7 reports, during which Watts was "visibly upset." Around 8 p.m. that evening, a small gathering of black-dressed mourners, including the Australian actress, was seen in the lobby of the Beverly Hills Hotel for a private event, a source said. Ledger's rep had said that no public memorial was planned for Los Angeles.'

It is very possible that Jake was able, discreetly, to attend this private ceremony because, after spending some time quietly on the set of Brothers, he was seen yesterday having a 'sombre' walk with Reese, her children and their dogs, in a Los Angeles park. My heart goes out to Jake, and I wish him peace and comfort in these days.


Saturday, 26 January 2008

Hollywood works out how to honour Heath - Jake provides some comfort

The unexpected and premature loss of Heath has given the powers that be in Hollywood and the movie industry a dilemma over how best to honour this much-missed man and actor. The tragedy has also highlighted to the industry the significance of Heath's film Brokeback Mountain and reminded them that Heath must be remembered for his contribution to a film that continues to change lives and attitudes.

As MTV reports, awards bodies, such as the Independent Spirit Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards, are busy trying to find the most suitable way to pay tribute. 'Also planning to acknowledge Ledger is the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Awards, a show that honors individuals and projects for their positive representations of the gay community. Along with co-star Jake Gyllenhaal, Ledger was lauded for his portrayal of a homosexual ranch hand in Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain." "GLAAD intends on acknowledging Heath Ledger's death at the 19th annual GLAAD Media Awards," publicist Nick Adams told MTV News. "We are still in the early stage of production, and do not know at this time what form that will take." Representatives for the Academy Awards could not be reached by press time.'

The Australian Foreign Minister has announced that, following a private service that was held yesterday (Friday) in New York, there will be a public memorial service for Heath next week in Los Angeles. The funeral in Australia will be strictly private, as all would wish.

A huge thanks to Get Real and Sass who were able to leave tributes to Heath in all our names.

Jake's Karaoke

I know I found some comfort last night laughing with and at Jake as he mimed and jigged his way through sections of Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive for Ellen's 50th Birthday show. Judging by the outfit, this mut have been recorded when he was on Ellen's show back in October. Who some of the other stars were, I have no idea, but it was also good to see king of cool Jamie Foxx. I just about recognised Victoria Beckham. Thanks as ever to Stephanie at IHJ for getting this up so quickly for all of us to see.

Pictures from IHJ and Getty.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Families and friends - sadness and laughter

With the tributes pouring in on a stream of love for Heath Ledger - from those lucky enough to have known him and from those who just wished they had - Heath's mother, father and sister today released their own tributes to their son and brother, just before leaving Australia to fly to the US to look after him.

'"You dreamed your dreams and lived them with passion and intelligent commitment. We have been privileged to accompany you on a ride through life that has simply been amazing and through it all we have loved each other beyond imagination," the notice added. "Our hearts are broken."'

There's also something very touching to hear Heath's nicknames - 'Roast' and 'Beef' - like being let into a family joke. One wonders what Heath called his sister in return.

Thanks to Pia for letting me know about this tribute to Heath from Rolling Stone's Peter Travers, who, like others in the movie world, heard the news at the Sundance Festival in Utah on the day of the Oscar nominations. Talk about putting things in perspective... Here is the original article about Heath, which put Heath on the cover of Rolling Stone back in the Spring of 2006.

Ellen Degeneres, a friend of Heath's, broadcast her own tribute to Heath, which includes footage from Heath's last appearance on her show. Watching this made me laugh and laugh and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Finally, it is Ellen's 50th birthday, today I believe, and her birthday show today contains a celebrity rendition of I Will Survive. One of the contributors is our very own Jake Gyllenhaal, of course recorded before Tuesday. Thanks to Neely who has just seen it, we know Jake is seen four times and he does the 'Just turn around now' line 'and he does a little hip shaking'. Now let's hope we can all get to see this as that would be a fine tonic, indeed.

I hope everyone has a peaceful and safe weekend.

Includes pictures from IHJ, Just Jared and Rolling Stone.