- The Washington Times - Monday, May 14, 2001

Heath Ledger is the new Russell Crowe. And Russell Crowe, as the entertainment press dutifully noted a few years ago, was the new Mel Gibson. That is a shorthand way of saying that Mr. Ledger is handsome and humble, an Australian actor exuding manly magnetism and mischievous charm. It also implies that the 22-year-old and his wild blond hair will go far in Hollywood.

The industry buzz began last summer, when Mr. Ledger co-starred as Mr. Gibson´s son in "The Patriot." Now he faces the first major test of his mettle, as the star of "A Knight´s Tale."

Mr. Ledger, in a Beverly Hills hotel, explains how it all makes sense, discussing the film and his growing fame.

Q: What did you think of the script when you first read it and saw that it had modern rock songs?

A: I was thinking, 'Oh God, what are they trying to do?´ But then I realized it´s a really smart thing, what writer-director Brian Helgeland did with the music. Because if it had a medieval score, then all of a sudden the movie would be restricted under historical facts. It would have to live up to those rules and guidelines.

He just went in there and blasted all that away. The attitude was straight up, bang, we´ve got rock ´n´ roll music in here.

Q: You looked so impressive up on the horse handling that big lance.

A: It wasn´t that bad, because the lances are balanced out. I mean, they´re weighted at the end, so you can hold them up, and they´re made of balsa wood. So we looked big and tough and strong, but it really wasn´t that hard, although my suit of armor was heavy and hot.

As far as stunt work, I tried to do everything except, obviously, hitting someone or getting hit. They wouldn´t let me do that.

Q: What gave you the confidence to act for the first time?

A: I don´t know, I don´t even know why I wanted to act. I´m asking myself that question now. I certainly went through periods of time where I was questioning whether it´s for me, because I was looking at what I was doing and I wasn´t happy. I can remember the change I made. It was when I realized I could see what I was doing wrong, I could see my mistakes, and if I could see that, then I could change it.

Q: Did you just finish "Four Feathers" for the director of "Elizabeth," Shekhar Kapur?

A: Yep, it was really hard. It was long, tedious. What can I say? Shekhar Kapur is amazing. He´s a genius. He´s incredibly passionate, incredibly enthused about his own work. It was just very tough, because it was six months without scripts, a schedule or sleep, and we were stuck in the desert. But it was a lot of fun, because it was hard.

Q: Is the public fascination with everything to do with your life, who you date and where you go a little weird?

A: Yeah, it is. I don´t really let it get to me. You have to look at it as comedy, and enjoy it. I have a laugh about it, but it is strange, and it´s invading. You just have to find a way to deal with it with a smile. And you also have to watch your steps. It´s all new to me.

Q: But you have got to know the kind of impact you have on young ladies.

A: I honestly don´t know about it until people tell me about it. I don´t sit around thinking about it. As much as you´d think that you would, you just don´t. So I don´t fully understand what´s going on out there. I don´t like to believe what anyone says about my career or social life in print, good or bad. And that´s another story.

It´s like there´s a whole world out there of your life being played out, but your real life is with your friends and your family. That doesn´t change, it´s just everything else out there that does.

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