Posted by · 3:56 pm · February 6th, 2009

Heath Ledger in The Dark KnightThe New York Times put it to David Carr, a.k.a. The Carpetbagger, to write a feature in today’s paper about the tight-rope walk of campaigning for a deceased actor (Heath Ledger for “The Dark Knight”), and it’s rather clear from the quotes that no one from Warner Bros. was willing to go on the record.  The first quote in the story is ripped from his outlet’s formal review of the film six months ago, then there’s some stuff from Christopher Nolan taken from his Golden Globes acceptance speech on Ledger’s behalf.

I participated, apparently on background, for the piece and said essentially what Sasha Stone is quoted as saying (and what I imagine any of us in the media had to offer Carr in the midst of his reporting): the trick was there was no trick.  Remind of the performance and stay out of its way.  Flowering it up with an overabundance of “for your consideration” novelty could have sunk the ship (though I’m surprised Stone hedges her bet by saying she doesn’t think Ledger is locked to win — who steals it from him?).

Here’s a bit from Carr’s piece:

There is a kind of institutional graciousness at work. Many Oscar campaigns are executed not because of the quality of the movie — see the campaign for “Seven Pounds” [interesting bit of editorializing] — but because A-list talent requires it. Mr. Ledger, though, has no needs on this earth; a victory will not serve as a career booster and fee raiser…

Is it wrong for us to stare, to reminisce, to regret? Hardly. Mr. Ledger’s death, which created a huge wave of public grief, was clearly a seminal moment in popular culture. The studio needed to navigate all those currents in releasing the film and in the Oscar ritual as well.

More here.

→ 11 Comments Tags: , , , | Filed in: Daily

11 responses so far

  • 1 2-06-2009 at 4:29 pm

    alynch said...

    Is it bad that I kind of want to see someone besides Ledger win just for the ensuing freakouts?

  • 2 2-06-2009 at 4:33 pm

    Trey - Swollen Thumb Entertainment said...

    I’m actually surprised that they don’t want to comment on it. I wonder if there’s more to the story than they want people to know.

  • 3 2-06-2009 at 4:56 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I just think it was decided early on not to bother with such a discussion. Really, what’s the point? You campaign, you have an obvious handicap in that the performer isn’t on hand to do press, but what else is there to say, really?

  • 4 2-06-2009 at 4:58 pm

    D said...


    “Who steals it from him?” The question you should be asking is, “What steals it from him?” The “what” is, of course, the Academy’s bias against superhero movies.

  • 5 2-06-2009 at 7:17 pm

    Mr. Gittes said...

    I wonder if Dr. Parnassus advertising will mention Ledger at all. Will they just stick with Depp, Law, and Farrell? Those are pretty big names. Or will Gilliam be a hypocrite?

  • 6 2-06-2009 at 9:41 pm

    D said...

    Gilliam has already been a hypocrite. The fact that he even talks about Ledger’s involvement in it at all is hypocritical. WB handled things with a lot of class and that idiot went on a tirade about how they were profiteering from his death in a tacky manner. Heath would be damn proud of his performance and would want it to be marketed as such.

  • 7 2-07-2009 at 1:32 am

    Andre said...

    he’s gonna win… and even if he were alive, he’d win!

  • 8 2-07-2009 at 1:36 am

    Andre said...

    and even if he were alive, it would be a worthy win… my favorite supporting performances of the past year, Michael Shannon in “Revolutionary Road” and Eddie Marsan (awesome) in “Happy Go-Luccky” aren’t even nominated…

    my pick for best actor in a supporting role?

    Heath’s co-star, Aaron Echkart.

  • 9 2-07-2009 at 8:48 am

    sasha stone said...

    Kris, I’ve seen heartbreak too many times to feel all that secure with this win. It would be stupidity on an epic level but those stubborn voters sometimes do just that. The one to benefit could be Downey, Jr.

  • 10 2-07-2009 at 9:04 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I would weep.

  • 11 2-07-2009 at 2:56 pm

    D said...


    I would laugh. The Academy would officially drive the nail in their coffin in terms of having even an ounce of credibility with the public. Yeah, I would be pretty mad about it but at the same time, Heath hated the awards scene. He hated everything about it and I don’t think he took on the Joker role hoping to win any awards. He did it because he felt he could do something the fans would enjoy. He achieved the goals he set for himself with the role, and that’s what should be important to us as fans of his performance.