Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Heath Ledger Role That Almost Was

"Crazy Heart" director talks about Heath Ledger playing Jeff Bridges' son.

Heath Ledger Role That Almost Was


It’s a small, powerful scene in Crazy Heart: When Jeff Bridge’s Bad Blake, a whiskey-soaked itinerant troubadour, telephones his estranged son, a son he’s never known, to try to meet up and make amends. The voice on the other end is cold, unsympathetic. A reunion isn’t likely.

“At one time, Heath Ledger was going to play the son,” says Scott Cooper, Crazy Heart’s writer and director, in a recent interview. “Obviously, that didn’t happen.” (Colin Farrell, however, does show up in another, uncredited role.) But there was a scene that Cooper shot with Bridges and a local Texas actor in the part that was to have gone to Ledger. Despite, or perhaps because of, that chilly refusal on the phone, Bad Blake heads to Marfa, Texas, and tracks down his estranged progeny. “It’s a powerful moment, but I didn’t have final cut, and there were folks who said we should cut it -- that all of the information was there in the phone call scene.”
Cooper cites William Faulkner’s famous line about giving up the characters and story elements that an author loves beyond reason: “You have to kill your darlings is what Faulkner said. And you have to do that in film, too.”
But then Faulkner didn't have DVD extras.
Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
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About this blog

Steven Rea has been an Inquirer movie critic since 1992. He was born in London, raised in New York City, and has lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Iowa City, Iowa. His column, "On Movies," appears Sundays in Arts & Entertainment, his reviews appear in the Weekend section on Fridays. He is a member of the National Society of Film Critics.

Read his most recent columns and reviews, here. He is the author of the book “Hollywood Rides a Bike,” and also curates the movie stars and bicycling photo blog, Rides A Bike.

Reach Steven at srea@phillynews.com.

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
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