It has been 10 years since the tragic passing of Heath Ledger. He passed away from an accidental intoxication from prescription drugs. Heath had not completed filming of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus yet when he passed away. In honor of what he meant to so many, especially those that knew him, three other actors stepped in to help. Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell were the three selected because of their friendships with Heath. There were a large number of other actors that offered as well. Depp, Law, and Farrell all donated their salaries for the film to Heath's daughter, Matilda. His career, though cut short, speaks to the unbelievable talent that he had. Heath was a dedicated artist, father, and friend, that enjoyed the exploration of life. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly in 2001 he said:
"A lot of people think ambition or success and they think dollars. My ambition is all in my head. I’m on a f—ing journey. I’m on a walkabout. It’s about collecting wisdom of emotions and heart and self and understanding. Being absolutely comfortable with your body and life and the earth, sun, and moon being the only truths. That’s what my success is, getting underneath that."
Even at a young age, it was obvious that Heath was an old soul. If you haven't seen I Am Heath Ledger yet, it is a wonderful documentary that shows the man behind the smile. There will always be only one Heath Ledger and his legacy is astounding. There is one actor that has some striking similarities to Heath. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as he has gotten older physically resembles Heath Ledger. There are also other things the two have in common. To be compared to the late great Heath Ledger is a compliment to anyone that ever saw him on film, or were lucky enough to know him.
21 They Starred Together
In 1999, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Heath Ledger starred together in the romantic comedy, 10 Things I Hate About You as "Cameron James" and "Patrick Verona". This was Ledger's first breakout film roll in the United States. Though Levitt had been in films previously, in this film his character was practically the lead if there was one. Cameron has just moved to a new school and meets the girl of his dreams. There's only one problem, her overprotective dad won't allow her to date until her older sister "Kat" does. Believing that this is a sure fire way to keep his youngest from dating since Kat has zero interest in dating.
Cameron, his friend, and the object of his affection come up with a plan to try and find someone willing to date Kat. Her reputation precedes her, however, and most of the guys at school are scared of her. That is until the Aussie bad boy, Patrick Verona steps into the picture. He is paid to take Kat out but quickly finds himself falling for the indie rock-loving lady. This movie is an adaptation of William Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew. Audiences couldn't help but fall for the mysterious and gorgeous Patrick Verona, and more so Heath Ledger.
20 Both Starred in Batman Films
Both Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Heath Ledger starred in a Christopher Nolan Dark Knight film. Ledger portrayed the character "Joker" in 2008 The Dark Knight. His ability to completely transform into this character blew critics and audiences away. Especially those that questioned whether anyone could outdo Jack Nicholson's performance of this famous DC character. Ledger brought a new eerie, sociopathic level to Joker. He was by far the star of the film. Heath Ledger posthumously won the Academy Award for his role. He won an astounding 49 awards for his enigmatic portrayal of the "Joker". Sadly, this was Heath's last film that he finished. It was released in theaters after his death and broke box office records at the time and is currently ranked #9 of all time for domestic box office.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt became a part of the Dark Knight franchise in the follow up to Heath's film in The Dark Knight Rises. This film takes place eight years following the mayhem that Joker unleashed on Gotham City. Levitt played the part of "Blake", a police officer that becomes an ally to Batman. The character of Blake's real name is "Robin John Blake". In the film, Batman uses his jet to take a nuclear bomb away from the city and presumably dies. Blake mourns the loss of his friend and ally. He leaves the force and receives an inheritance from Bruce under his birth name "Robin", the coordinates to the Batcave. Leading audiences to the assumption that Robin was to take over being the protector of Gotham.
19 Diving into Characters
Though Heath Ledger's career ended far too early, he still provided audiences with an astounding menagerie of characters. Most notably his role as "Joker". It was important to him to do leave nothing on the table no matter the character he was playing. Whether it be a teenage bad boy, a priest, or a melancholy sociopath, Heath was a true artist and took time to become the characters he portrayed. Ledger adored what Jack Nicholson did as the character of Joker, and was excited to bring a new version of the Joker to the big screen. In preparation, Ledger locked himself in a room for six weeks to create the character that went on to captivate audiences. Heath's father stated in a documentary,
"He pretty well locked himself up in a hotel room for weeks. He galvanized the upcoming character. That was typical of Heath. He would do that. He liked to dive into his characters, but this time he really took it up a notch," Kim said in the documentary.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt has portrayed real people in films including high-wire walker Philippe Petit, Edward Snowden, and even a younger version of Bruce Willis for the film Looper. Levitt trained to high wire walk for The Walk, and though he didn't actually walk between buildings, he did do it 12 ft off the ground. Which is still pretty good. For his role as the infamous leaker Edward Snowden, Levitt studied audio from a Snowden-inspired documentary on repeat. He also read everything that he could on Edward Snowden, and met the man himself, after flying to Russia to help prepare. After the release of the film Snowden, the real Edward Snowden praised Levitt's performance. In the film Looper, Joseph's character, "Joe", is the younger version of the same character played by Bruce Willis. Levitt took to studying Willis and his facial expressions, walk, and overall vibe in order to accurately portray the younger Joe.
18 Ability to Sing
Both of these talented actors lent their singing talents to soundtracks. Heath Ledger performed two songs while starring on the television series Roar in 1997. Most though will remember his adorable rendition of "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" in the film 10 Things I Hate About You. It's hard to think of that song without hearing Heath's voice in your head instead of Frankie Valli and the 4 Seasons. His character "Patrick Verona" sings this in a stadium to the girl he is trying to date "Kat", while others around them watch. Even the Kat can't deny how adorable this was.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt has lent musical cords to a number of film and television productions including Lady Gaga & the Muppets' Holiday Spectacular. Levitt performed a duet with Gaga of "Baby It's Cold Outside". It is very reminiscent of old classic Hollywood days of Fred Astaire. Levitt has also gone to the stage during events and sang impromptu songs like he did in 2011 along with Anne Hathaway at The Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles. To raise it up a notch further, they sang the French song "Le Petit Soldat". In the film The Night Before, Levitt performed alongside Miley Cyrus, her chart-topping song "Wrecking Ball". It's obvious that this man has some natural talent when it comes to belting out melodies.
17 Role Selection
Both Heath Ledger and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are not the types of actors that choose a role based on how many theaters it will be released in. Even though Heath's career was cut short, he chose his roles based on the stories and the characters. It wasn't about making money, it was about telling a story. Early in his career after the success of 10 Things I Hate About You, he was offered roles right and left like that of Patrick Verona but Heath chose not to do them. During his career, he played characters that had depth and inner strife. The most notable being "Ennis Del Mar" in Brokeback Mountain, and "Joker" in The Dark Knight Rises. Ledger created characters that we empathized with and believed in their struggles and story. Heath was nominated for Oscar's and Golden Globes for his performances as Ennis and Joker. He was posthumously awarded both awards for his role in The Dark Knight Rises.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been acting since a very young age. His mother allowed him to choose his roles as a child. In an interview with Salon in November 2009:
"I guess I have an eclectic taste [about (500) Days of Summer, G.I. Joe, and Uncertainty all in one year], I don't just like one thing. Contrast is key. What do they say? Variety is the spice of life. My favorite actors are the chameleons, guys like Daniel Day-Lewis, Billy Bob Thornton, Meryl Streep, people who are always different."
Joseph Gordon-Levitt has played a menagerie of characters over the years. He has played a young man diagnosed with cancer in 50/50 , a demented villain in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, a famous literary character in the musical Straight Outta Oz, and real-life people like Edward Snowden and Philippe Petit. Levitt is underrated as an actor and has shown his ability to transform into characters.
16 Acting Talent
Heath Ledger had the ability to perform so well between lines, that one can watch his films on mute and still know what is going on with his characters. He pulled you in and stole any scene that he was in, even if it were a minute piece of a scene. His role as the "Joker" is his most memorable. He created this character that took being a psychopath to a new level, and yet in some parts of the film, you felt sorry for his character. He projected the turmoil of a man consumed in his own head of evils and zero humanity. Heath's performance in itself is art. When you watch one of his films, you don't think, "oh I'm watching Heath Ledger play this character,". Instead, you believe that you are watching that character, who is living and breathing on the screen in front of you, only that screen is a window into their life. That is the sign of a true artist and it didn't start with "Joker".
Over the years Joseph Gordon-Levitt has continued to grow as a performer but even at a young age, he showed a natural talent for acting. As a child, he played the part of young "Norman" in the film A River Runs Through It. If you have seen this movie then chances are that you remember him. There aren't many child actors that you remember in small roles such as this but something about him and his performance stood out. Beginning his career in 1988 at the age of 7, and staying active in the industry 30 years later is no small feet. Levitt plays a vast number of different characters and brings a vulnerability to them that draws audiences in. He talent as an actor is for sure underrated.
Being considered a beautiful symbol and among Hollywood's "hottest", isn't something that everyone strives for, or considers themselves to be. That is true for both Heath Ledger and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Heath never saw himself as a symbol and shied away from the attention and labeling as such. For him as with Joseph, it was about the art and the craft of story-telling.
In an interview with New York Daily News, Heath spoke about heartthrob buzz, magazine covers, and publicity:
"It sucks! "All of this is so insignificant," Ledger says. "In the grand scale of things, there have been so many before who have been in this position. I'm just another one. Life is so short. It's like we're already gone, really, in retrospect."
“He was ready to bust out of the gate, but he didn’t want to step on the gas and become something that he didn’t want to become: a matinee idol,” said Manager and friend Steve Alexander with Vanity Fair in 2001 of Heath's choice to not be the studios' heartthrob.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt caught audiences off guard who remember seeing him each week as the funny alien on 3rd Rock From the Sun. It was like, 'oh, wow, ok, he's grown up,". Levitt also packed on a lot of muscle for the film Don Jon. Like Heath, Joseph doesn't see himself as a heartthrob and is shy about it.
The recently released documentary I Am Heath Ledger provided fans with a more personal look into the life a such a legendary human. The film is comprised of interviews with his friends and family, as well as photos and video that Heath recorded himself. If you haven't seen it yet, you should. Heath was a life loving, caring, and artistic soul, that seemed to find beauty in everything. Life is about the journey one takes not what praise they receive. As said in the documentary, early in his career Heath's house became a place where friends or even friends of friends could stay if they needed a place, or simply to come over for breakfast. If you were a friend of Heath's, that meant you were family.
From watching his videos on the hitRECord channel to interviews he has given, Joseph Gordon-Levitt seems like the type of guy you would want to hang out with. He laughs a lot but not in a creepy way. Levitt does not see celebrities including himself as being different or better than your average Joe. His enthusiasm and joy for life are evident in an interview or video he does. Like Heath, Joseph would prefer to be treated just like anybody else and doesn't see himself as above anyone.
There is nothing stronger than family and these two men are no different. Becoming a father added a whole other level of family and love. In an interview with In Touch Weekly Heath said:
"Having a child changes every aspect of your life — for the better, of course. The sacrifices are large, but what you get in return is even bigger than the sacrifices you make. I feel, in a sense, ready to die because you are living on in your child. Not literally, not ready to die — but you know, that sort of feeling in a profound way."
Ledger loved everything about being a dad and during an interview with Rollingstone Heath stood up, checked the time then told the interviewer: "I've gotta get back to my girl. Girls. Don't want to be away too long. I've gotta keep the house clean, my girls fed. I've got duties." Matilda is now 12 years old and looks so much like her dad.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt became a father in August 2015, when he and his wife welcomed their first son. Their second son was born in June of 2017. Both he and his wife have chosen to keep their children's names under wraps to protect their privacy. Many did not even realize that Levitt was married as he like many celebrities prefer anonymity when it comes to family and personal life.
Actors are also known as artists for their work in bringing characters and stories to life through their performances. There are some whom that title expands to multiple aspects of their lives or in everything that they do and touch. Both Heath Ledger and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are like this in a menagerie of ways. One of which is music.
Heath Ledger founded the record label Masses in 2008. It was based out of Los Angeles though Ledger lived in New York. It was a label comprised of his close friends that were musicians. Many of which Ledger directed music videos for. Heath Ledger was musically inclined himself and could play the guitar and sing. Though he preferred his singing to remain in the shower. You can view the music videos he directed as well as a tribute to Heath on the site by clicking on this link, Heath's Work.
For Joseph Gordon-Levitt, he loves to perform and do covers of songs. Levitt has been known to put on shows for the collaborators of his site hitRECord. At these gatherings, he loves to get up on stage and perform covers of popular songs to entertain the crowd and thank them for attending. Joseph Gordon-Levitt goes by the name "Regular Joe" on the hitRECord site.
At an event, he played a cover of Brad Paisley's "Alcohol". There's no artist that Levitt isn't willing to cover. He sings songs from The Supremes to Oasis. A fan favorite was when he covered "Who's Lovin' You?", a song made popular by the Jackson 5. He often adds his own twist to the songs when performing the songs, causing his audience to scream and laugh at times.
11 Private Life is Private Life
In an interview with the National Post in 2001, Heath spoke about problems with the paparazzi:
"Most of the time you don't even know they're there. Now, that's the scary thing. It's really strange and invading, but I'm still working it all out. I try to not let it bother me. And if I want to swim naked in my pool, I'm still going to do it. I certainly don't want to feel that I have to change everything in my life that I do to cater to them. I just won't let it happen."
Heath was a very private person and preferred to keep things that way. He wanted to be known for his work, not what he did when the directors yelled cut.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt said during an appearance on Live with Kelly and Michael about his son: “My son, he’s just a baby, you know? He hasn’t made the choice to be in the public eye, and that’s a choice that I would like him to be able to make when he’s older when he can think about these kinds of things and make that decision for himself, and so, for now, I’m just a protective dad, and I want to protect his privacy.”
10 Talented Dancers
As if we needed any more reasons to adore both of these actors, you can check the box next to "dancer" for them as well. Heath Ledger flexed his dancing muscles during his films 10 Things I Hate About You, A Knight's Tale, The Four Feathers, and Casanova. Of course most memorable being the choreographed dance scene from A Knight's Tale to David Bowie's "Golden Years". Heath also shows some dance moves in the archival footage in the documentary I Am Heath Ledger.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt has shown off his skills on more than one occasion. He blew audiences of the television show Lip Sync Battles away with his rendition of Janet Jackson's famous choreographed "Rhythm Nation". It's more than obvious that this man is a talented dancer. He also showed off his dance moves ala Magic Mike during his opening monologue on Saturday Night Live in 2012. In 2014 he danced along with Zooey Deschanel in a music video "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?". In the film 500 Days of Summer, Levitt danced throughout a scene to the classic Hall and Oates song “You Make My Dreams Come True”. There’s no doubt that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a throwback to classic Hollywood actors like Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire.
9 Started on TV Series
In 1992 Heath Ledger found himself in Sydney with 69 cents in his pocket. Within a week he had a gig on a television show, Ship to Shore, as the character known only as "Cyclist". He followed this up with a lengthier stint as "Snowy Bowles" on the Aussie tv series Sweat. Like many Australian actors, he soon found himself on the popular television series Home and Away where he starred as "Scott Irwin". This is also the same television series that actors Chris Hemsworth and Liam Hemsworth got their start on. In 1997 Ledger landed a starring role in the Fox medieval fantasy series Roar. This gave him exposure to American audiences and studios. Following his time on the series, he headed to Los Angeles at the age of 19, and the rest is history.
Though Joseph Gordon-Levitt had several roles under his belt prior to his 3rd Rock From the Sun stint, it was this one that put him on the map. Levitt played the character "Tommy Solomon", the oldest of a team of aliens sent to Earth to study it. Even though he was the most elder of the aliens, he was put in the body of a teenager, which provided continual comedic situations. The series began in 1996 and lasted for six seasons and audiences watched Levitt grow up before their eyes. It was during this time that he landed the role of "Cameron James" in 10 Things I Hate About You and met Heath Ledger.
Joseph Gordon Levitt and Heath Ledger both took turns behind the camera as directors. Ledger showed his amazing eye for art in N'fa Jones music video "Cause An Effect". This video is hypnotizing and so different than most music videos that you see. You can't help but be pulled into the images. He also directed a music video for Modest Mouse called "King Rat". It is an animation video that is like watching a childhood book come to life. Ledger's first directing was in 2006 for the music video "Morning Yearning" by Ben Harper. Watching this video is like walking through a live-action art exhibit. Ledger's talent as an artist is profound both in front of the camera and behind it.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt has directed a total of eight productions, with another one recently announced. For the 2013 independent film Don Jon, Levitt wrote, directed, and starred in the film opposite Scarlet Johansson. His first step behind the camera was in 2009 for the short film Sparks. Levitt also adapted the story for the screen. In 2014 he created the television series HitRECord on TV. Levitt directed the fifth episode of the first season entitled "Re: The Other Side". The show lasted two seasons and won an Emmy for "Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media-Social Experience".
7 The Idea of being a Celebrity
In a 2007 interview with the New York Post, Joseph Gordon-Levitt said:
"There's this barrier that goes up between the people who make the movies and the people who watch the movies. But the point of art is to have a connection between people. I think it's going to become much more of a dialogue, where everybody will watch everybody's stuff, as opposed to how it is now, where the huge corporations produce everything. I'm looking forward to seeing that.
Heath enjoyed making films and telling stories but disliked the politics and the press junkets. He wanted to be respected for his performances and not because he was on a billboard. If you go back and watch some of Heath's interviews, he seems to fidget a lot and move around. It's because he was nervous and uncomfortable doing those things. In a Rollingstone interview Heath talked about his reaction to seeing his face on billboards for A Knight's Tale:
"I started to feel like a bottle of Coke. And there was a whole marketing scheme to turn me into a very popular bottle. And, you know, Coke tastes like s***. But there's posters everywhere so people will buy it. So I felt like I tasted like s***, and I was being bought for no reason."
In the documentary I Am Heath Ledger, the public was given a chance to see some of Heath's artwork. Many were not aware that he had such a love for multimedia art outside of his close circle of friends and family. Ledger used photography as a canvas and would sometimes draw images with paint and marker. He was also an avid photographer, who often turned the lens on himself. It is easy to see that his talents extended far past that of acting.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt founded the company hitRECord as a way for people to have a place to be creative without waiting around for Hollywood. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he said:
“But rather than just working within the insular Hollywood industry, I wanted to open it up to anybody, because there are so many people all over the world who are doing great art, in New York, in the Philippines, anywhere — whether they’re writing or making music or taking photos. So the website is just a way for me to collaborate with those great artists all over the place. It’s a place for people to come and work with me.”
Both Heath Ledger and Joseph Gordon-Levitt exemplify a true artist and love for the creative.
5 Brother's Grimm
In 2005, Heath Ledger starred alongside Matt Damon in Terry Gilliam's The Brothers Grimm. Ledger played the part of "Jake Grimm". The film is an exaggerated, fictitious, and whimsical portrait of the Brothers Grimm. It portrays them as traveling con-artists in French-occupied Germany during the early 19th century. The brothers soon find themselves involved with a fairytale curse, forcing them to fight against evils and become the heroes they pretended to be. The film received mixed reviews upon its release.
In 2012 Joseph Gordon-Levitt wrote an adaptation of the Brothers Grimm classic fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood. Levitt said in a video on the hitRECord youtube channel that the original story was degrading and was to keep girls obedient. So he wrote his own version and it was the first issue released by hitRECord. A company that Levitt created to bring together artists from across the globe, with the vision of collaboration and creativity. It is an open community-sourced production company. HitRECord is a new kind of online community, where people work together to create projects and engage in challenges. You might remember seeing ads for this a few years ago. Levitt’s adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood was illustrated by hitRECord members. The company was founded in 2004 by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and his brother Dan, who sadly passed away in 2010.
4 Strive to Generate Creativity of Those Around Them
"Heath has touched so many people on so many different levels during his short life but few had the pleasure of truly knowing him. He was a down to earth, generous, kind-hearted, life-loving, unselfish individual who was extremely inspirational to many." Heath's father, Kim, said in an on-camera public statement on January 23, 2008, after he learned of his son's passing.
Andrew Garfield said in an interview with Vanity Fair on working with Heath: "Like there was one day where we were shooting a scene. I was struggling. It was kind of underwritten, and I was nervous because I was scared that I couldn’t make it work on all the different levels. He went to Terry and said, ‘Do my close-up first. We’ll do a shitload of takes—Andrew will get knackered. Then, by the time we turn around on him, he’ll just be relaxed, he won’t give a shit anymore, and he’ll give something purer.’ And that worked. He was constantly looking out for the people who he thought needed a bit looking out for.”
In an article with Details in 2010, Joseph Gordon-Levitt said, "The most valiant thing you can do as an artist is inspire someone else to be creative."
Joseph Gordon-Levitt also created HitRECord as a platform for creative minds to collaborate on projects or make their own. Like Heath, Joseph is very much about extending a helping hand and support for those that desire to create art.
3 Dislike of Repeating Roles (Type casting)
Some actors are content with playing the same roles over and over again. Others find themselves only being offered roles of the same kind, also known as "type-casting". Actors and actresses that find themselves in this situation can go one of two directions; embrace it and run with it even though they will be repeating the same character in different films, but hey they're getting paid. Or they can choose to go against the type-casting and say no to repetitive roles. This could be career ending for actors that don't have the talent to back it up. It is also not lucrative in the beginning but is very rewarding. In an interview with Detour in the summer of 2000, Heath said:
"I had a year where I sat around on my butt and declined generous offers to do more teen movies and more of the same characters as the one from 10 Things. I was literally living off Ramen noodles and water just because I was sticking to my guns. It was very hard because they offer you so much money."
Both Heath Ledger and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were at risk of type-casting early on in their careers, as actors for rom-com, teen movies. Holding to their love of the craft in itself, they chose to be more selective with roles, joining films for the story and the character.
2 Art vs Box Office Dollars
Heath Ledger was not about box office success and awards. Though of course, he wanted the films that he was in to do well. He wanted it to be because to the story that he and the rest of the cast and crew created. Not about the special effects, CGI, or toys that would be flying off of shelves. It was never about the money for Heath, it was about the story. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph in 2007, Heath said:
"No amount of money changes what I do between 'action' and 'cut'... Before I got into the industry, I never imagined I'd have anywhere near the money I have now... I don’t need any more."
He continued with, "It's not that I don’t want the money, it's just that I would have been really happy sitting on a beach or surfing every morning... I never had money, and I was very happy without it. When I die, my money's not gonna come with me. My movies will live on – for people to judge what I was as a person. I just want to stay curious."
For Joseph Gordon-Levitt, it is much the same. While a films box office numbers are important for the studio and all involved, Levitt is more focused on the art of storytelling. Especially when it comes to telling the stories of real-life people, portraying them in a film, or basing a film around their story, like that of 50/50.
This has been a topic of much discussion on the internet over the past few years. As Joseph Gordon-Levitt has gotten older, his resemblance to Heath Ledger is hard to ignore. A simple Google search reveals a number of sites that have the two listed as doppelgangers and even some that ask the question if the two are related. The pair is not related but the side by side comparisons are striking. Like Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has inviting brown eyes, dimples for days, an endearing smile, and a laid back kind of aura. Another thing that is similar and adorable is that they both smile with their eyes as well. Most people's smiles don't extend to their eyes in the way that you can see the joy in theirs. This isn't to say that the corner of their mouths reach that far. It is that if you covered up the bottom half of their faces you could still tell they were smiling from the way their eyes looked.
Though they don't have the same nose or jawline, Joseph still resembles Heath. Perhaps it's that we as fans want to see it as a way of reminding us of such an amazing and talented person in Heath Ledger. Though Joseph Gordon-Levitt has not spoken about the comparison, we're sure it's something that he is probably honored by.