Wednesday, January 23, 2008

River and Heath

This whole Heath Ledger thing reminds me so much of River Phoenix, it’s eerie.
Another handsome, somewhat brooding, enormously talented young man cut down in the prime of life, apparently of a drug overdose. (Although reports have now surfaced that Heath was also suffering from pneumonia.)
Both actors COULD have had successful mainstream careers as heartthrobs and leading men but clearly didn’t give a damn about such things. Instead, they chose to take roles that were darker, less fan friendly, and more challenging.
Both actors chose parts that submerged them in drug culture. (River, My Own Private Idaho; Heath, Candy).
Both played a gay romantic interest to a popular, dark-haired leading man (River with Keanu in Idaho; Health with Jake in Brokeback Mountain.)
Both were Oscar nominated (River for Running on Empty; Heath for Brokeback)—they leave behind an incredibly frustrating sense that their best work was ahead of them.
Both favored the urban, messy, indie rocker look—lots of caps and torn jackets and unwashed hair.
Both were involved with actresses (River with Samantha Mathis and Martha Plimpton; Heath with Michelle Williams and Naomi Watts).
Both had a physical beauty, as well as a sensitivity and depth and a kind of native sadness that really touched me.
I was closer to River’s age, so his death affected me more deeply.
But Health also had that beautiful little girl.
Damn. My heart is crushed just thinking about her.

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