Heath Ledger’s Post-Mortem Vanity Fair Cover

The August 2009 issue of Vanity Fair, which will hit newsstands tomorrow, went to print before Michael Jackson died. Coincidentally, another star who passed too soon, Heath Ledger, is on the cover. The cover story, “The Last of Heath,” details Ledger’s exhaustion, insomnia, custody battle, final movie role, and untimely death. Contributing editor Peter Biskind interviewed Hollywood figures close to the actor about his final few days. After the jump, several gloomy quotes depicting what life was like for Heath.
On why he died, according to his vocal coach Gerry Grennel:

“From my perspective, and knowing him as well as I did, and being around him as much as I was, it was a combination of exhaustion, sleeping medication … and perhaps the after effects of the flu. I guess his body just stopped breathing.”

On why his marriage with Michelle Williams failed, according to director friend Terry Gilliam:

“[During the Oscar campaigh for ‘Brokeback Mountain’] the whole machinery started growing up around them…That was the moment when it changed, when he realized, ‘Uh-oh. We perceive the world differently.’ He didn’t care about things like those awards.”

On his struggle with chronic insomnia and his devotion to acting, according to Gilliam:

“He would arrive in the morning completely knackered. By the end of the day he was beaming, glowing with energy. It was like everything was put into the work, because that was the joy; that’s what he loved to do. The words were just pouring out. It was like he was channeling.”

On why he didn’t want to take the role of the Joker, according to his agent Steven Alexander:

Heath “was always hesitant to be in a summer blockbuster, with the dolls and action figures and everything else that comes with one of those movies. He was afraid it would define him and limit his choices.”

On his motivation to perform well, according to Alexander:

“He wasn’t motivated by money or stardom, but by the respect of his peers, and for people to walk out of a movie theater after they’d seen something that he’d worked on and say, ‘Wow, he really disappeared into that character.’ He was striving to become an ‘illusionist,’ as he called it, able to create characters that weren’t there.”

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