Friday, October 24, 2008


You know, this might make me sound like an East Coast elitist, but I think you should have to take an "issues" test to be allowed to vote. I mean, there are so many idiots that vote for a hairstyle, a suit or the color of skin that I think a short and simple test to demonstrate that you know the issues is a dandy idea.


Anonymous said...

"This is it."

"This cannot be it, this is a set up. I mean, I know it's downtown L.A. but seriously, this warehouse??? Look at those creepy dudes over there, I'm not getting out, they'll kidnap me."

Crates of oranges had spilled out of what looked like a run down truck and covered the street with a slick of orange light in the sun, and shady characters stared at my friend and I letting us know we were completely out of place.

"Shut up and get out of the car, this is it."

Earlier that afternoon my friend and I sat on the floor of our apartment watching talk shows and shoving spoonfuls of Lucky Charms into our mouths when my phone rang, it was my agent;

"Hey....Ok, I know it's last minute but- I have something for you ....You guys are broke, well, you won't really make that much money, but it's a free meal and maaaybe....$25 bucks?"
He knew he'd get me at "free meal" but I needed some more details.
"What is it?"

"A music video for Ben Harper.....and Heath Ledger is directing it. It's super low budget, and last minute, but they need a couple dancers. Heath is really trying to get into directing and this is his first video....he's doing it as a favor for Ben. That's why there isn't a lot of money involved."


Now, here I am, downtown l.a. about to get mugged. I hesitantly knock on the outside of a dirty garage door..... There weren't any REAL doors to be found.
I hear people and the garage starts to lift.....

"Hi! I'm Heath! You must be the dancers!" As if I had no idea who even was, even though I'd been obsessing over him since 10 Things I Hate About You.

He stretched out his hand with a firm handshake and smiled.
"Um, you can just go sit on that couch over there, maybe show me what clothes you brought and we'll get started in a minute...Thank you guys SO much for coming, really."

Typical Hollywood protocol involves a crew, wardrobe, catering, production assistant, gaffers, cameramen, assistants to the assistants, etc. I surveyed the room...and it seemed everyone else had, taken the day off?? Half the time you didn't SEE the director let alone speak to him.
6 dancers, 2 cameramen, 1 assistant, Heath, and Ben.

Here he comes....I love him, I love him, I love him. -ok, be professional.

"K uh. So, this is my first time directing. I came up with the concept- I just really loved the song and Ben is a friend so I wanted to do it. I want it to be really organic. Wear lose fitting clothes, maybe earth tones......and you're just going to improv." He was so passionate, so excited and....
Improv?! Holy hell. I'm going to make a jackass out of myself in front of a creative genius.

"I used to modern dance, in Australia and I want it to be....well, like this sort of."
This Academy Award nominated actor starts dancing, swinging his arms, exploring levels, high and low, closing his eyes....
"See? Do you guys have any questions?.....Ok, so how about we start with you??"

He's pointing at me, dear Lord, he's pointing at me- acknowledging my existence.
"SURE!!" I just screamed, tone it down Chels, tone it down.

I jump on the stage, the smoke machine starts blowing, my palms are sweating and Heath jumps up next to me, he crosses his legs and grabs onto both ankles like a little boy....
" you have any suggestions for me??"

Did he really just ask if I had suggestions for him?! Me? some chick dancing for a mere 25 dollars, some stranger, and he wants my advice? This was the humblest thing I'd ever seen in Hollywood.

"Ok...." He's staring at my face....studying it. "Can you take your hair down? There and flip your head over, tousle it a bit...."
I shake my hair out and he reaches towards me, putting both hands in my hair, scratching my scalp and giving it that messy look.
The music hearts beating and I start to move. 2 minutes pass like nothing, I was "in it", I was going to perform and get lost in the music just as he had in all of his performances.... the song ends and silence fills the room.

I peer up and Heath is standing at the end of the stage....he grabs my hand with both of his, looks my straight in the eye and says, "That was brilliant. Really inspiring....I got chills. Thank you."

I am in love.
He continues with the next dancers, demonstrating movement occasionally- eventually splitting his pants, but he continued anyway. He experimented with lights and smoke, showing his excitement when something worked perfectly. Then we broke for lunch....
I station myself on the dusty warehouse floor and he sits on the ground next to myself and the other dancers, immediately striking up conversation as if we were longtime friends.

"I LOVE GRANOLA." I blurt out as I devour handfuls at a time.
"That should be a a know, like one of those quirky shirts with sayings, that's funny."
His voice was charming, a slight Australian accent making words like quirky sound; quirky.

The 7 hours passed quickly and he graciously thanked each and everyone one of us, making eye contact and profusely thanking us for the inspiration. He pulled his wallet out and handed us each a hundred bucks.
"I know it's not much...."

I didn't care. The experience was priceless.

Heath (and Ben) was one of the humblest people I have ever met. Unaffected. Warm. Genuine. He listened when people spoke, watched intently, and had the most positive, serene energy. I am blessed to have worked with him in his short life, and it is a tragedy he didn't get to continue on making incredible films and inspiring us all.

The result of his first and last music video was beautiful, organic and modest. I am honored to have been a part of loving memory;

Anonymous said...

Charisma as Natural as Gravity
Christopher Nolan
Updated: 3:21 p.m. ET Jan 26, 2008
From the magazine issue dated Feb 4, 2008
Heath Ledger, 28, Actor

Best known for his haunting, Oscar-nominated performance as Ennis Del Mar, one of the gay cowboys in 2005 ' s " Brokeback Mountain, " Ledger was a massive young talent on the cusp of greatness when he died last week in New York. The native Australian, who is survived by his 2-year-old daughter, Matilda, had recently finished work on this summer ' s " Batman " sequel, " The Dark Knight, " in which he plays a villain, the Joker. Christopher Nolan, the film ' s director, shared these memories:

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.

One time he and another actor were shooting a complex scene. We had two days to shoot it, and at the end of the first day, they'd really found something and Heath was worried that he might not have it if we stopped. He wanted to carry on and finish. It's tough to ask the crew to work late when we all know there's plenty of time to finish the next day. But everyone seemed to understand that Heath had something special and that we had to capture it before it disappeared. Months later, I learned that as Heath left the set that night, he quietly thanked each crew member for working late. Quietly. Not trying to make a point, just grateful for the chance to create that they'd given him.

Those nights on the streets of Chicago were filled with stunts. These can be boring times for an actor, but Heath was fascinated, eagerly accepting our invitation to ride in the camera car as we chased vehicles through movie traffic—not just for the thrill ride, but to be a part of it. Of everything. He'd brought his laptop along in the car, and we had a high-speed screening of two of his works-in-progress: short films he'd made that were exciting and haunting. Their exuberance made me feel jaded and leaden. I've never felt as old as I did watching Heath explore his talents. That night I made him an offer—knowing he wouldn't take me up on it—that he should feel free to come by the set when he had a night off so he could see what we were up to.

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.

Back on LaSalle Street, I turn to my assistant director and I tell him to clear the skateboarding kid out of my line of sight when I realize—it's Heath, woolly hat pulled low over his eyes, here on his night off to take me up on my offer. I can't help but smile.

Baxter said...

This guy nailed it perfectly.

Also, I agree with your idea, OR. Though it does surprise me that you'd suggest such common sense, since that would theoretically bring about the demise of the Democratic party. Common sense being what it is, you know.

This is the second time I've agreed with you. You positive you ain't a Republican?


who is this stalker?