“Method” to His Madness
The news lit up stories this month nearly four years ago about a star (Heath Ledger) who died in tragedy. Many claimed this resulted from controversial acting choices. Others claimed it was addiction to drugs. While some suspect the combination of both. Whether it was either or both, this was a spiritual opening for the demonic to operate.
Heath Ledger died on January 22, 2008 on Tuesday afternoon in an apartment in Manhattan. There was evidence of an overdose suicide without a note. Some of the drugs used were prescription, non-prescription and sleeping pills. What can be said is there are dangers with pharmakia. Although, was it just pharmakia that played a role here?
Mr. Ledger was in the process of shooting a movie called “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”. This film is a story of making a deal with the devil to take souls. This movie includes soul traveling and occultic symbolism. Interesting enough, his character offers up his soul in an attempt to trick the devil. Instead he becomes a sacrifice and is killed.
Could this just be a coincidence or does this have a meaning? Maybe observing the movies before this could solve this question.
(Monster’s Ball 2001) played a suicidal role
• Eventually Committed Suicide
(Candy 2006) where he played roles as a heroin addict.
• Addicted to Cocaine and Heroin
(I’m Not There 2007) role having marriage problems
• Sept. 2007 Heath and the mother of his child, Michelle Williams, split
(Dark Knight 2008) played a crazed villain with mental illness
• Was battling depression and taking generic forms of Valium, Xanax, Ambiem
(The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus 2009) Sold Soul to Devil and died
• Died before movie was released
Mr. Ledger was using a form call Method Acting when casted into roles.
“As a consummate perfectionist, Ledger was an ardent follower of the method-acting school of thought.” Source
Method Acting loosely refers to a family of techniques used by actors to create in themselves the thoughts and emotions of their characters, so as to develop lifelike performances
This was invented by Constantin Stanislavski and advocated by Lee Strasberg. These techniques include sense memory and affective memory. These methods don’t focus on developing skills and practice, but rather psychologically and emotionally connect with the person they are portraying.
Heath Ledger States:
“In a way I was spoon-fed a career,” he told the Glasgow Herald in 2005. “It was fully manufactured by a studio that believed it could put me on their posters and turn me into a product. … I hadn’t figured out properly how to act, and all of a sudden I was being thrown into these lead roles.”
They literally “recall” emotions and sensations from their past. This became too limited. Stella Adler added to the Method to conjure up emotions without using personal memories. Since then, the contemporary school of Method Acting has even developed to use dream work or archetype work (channeling). Mr. Ledger had found a way to become another person on screen without learning the culture. He began to use sensory and affective memory.
NY Times Critic Stephen Holden wrote about Brokeback Mountain
“Mr. Ledger magically and mysteriously disappears beneath the skin of his lean, sinewy character. It is a great screen performance, as good as the best of Marlon Brando and Sean Penn.”
This even got to the point where some Method actors/actresses debate that it can be taken out of control. Mr. Ledger readied for the role in the Dark Knight by living in a motel alone for a month. While there, he formulated the Joker including psychology. He even got to the point of writing the “thoughts” of the Joker.
His method was a simple one: to climb inside the skin of the person you’re playing.
“That’s the only way that I can act,” he said. “By tapping into the power that the character has otherwise you couldn’t thrash around on the floor in tears.”
“As actors we’re asked to bare our souls and it’s just whether or not you’re prepared to do that or not. What I get out it is quite therapeutic. I get to scream,” he said. ” Acting is also a form of escapism. You put on costumes but what you’re escaping from most of the time is life, the social world.” Source
This even became evident to other cast members.
“On set, Michael Caine said the performance sometimes turned so frightening he forgot his own lines.” Rolling Stone
So back to the so-called coincidence of the meaning of the “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”.
And there are the references to death in the film that seem terribly poignant in the light of what happened. Did you re-emphasise any of that after his death?
The references to death were all in the original script, which people don’t understand. They all thought we had written this stuff after Heath had died and no, we didn’t change any of the words. And that to me is what’s so kind of scary and spooky – why was it so prescient? It seemed to be all about death, it’s so much of it.
Terry Gilliam said about Heath:
“Everyone said he died young, but I think he was about 150 when he died. This was not a kid. There was wisdom there. I didn’t know where it came from – none of us knew – but everybody that was close to him says the same thing.” Source
Whether or not Ledger had gone too far with the Method, it still comes up as a demonic source of ability. The movies that Ledger had been casted in depict how his life was lived. These were the gateways that the demons had entered in through. Once he had opened himself up, they set in and began to tear apart his life. He had addictions, insomnia, depression, and finally committed suicide. He was no longer happy with what the world could offer and couldn’t turn the switch off. Money, power, and fame couldn’t give him true happiness.
Ledger stated 2 months before his death.
“I never had money, and I was very happy without it,” he said. “When I die, my money’s not gonna come with me.”
Quote from an amateur actor
“Recently I was in a performance where my role was a man with MPD and depression. I employed method acting techniques to my character and found myself so immersed within the role that I found myself experiencing minor effects of both these conditions which were confirmed by a doctor.”
By Jesse W.
Photo from Flickr.com | Luke M. Schierholz