We were shocked this morning to switch on the TV and between the Police pay-deal and the weather, GMTV blithely reported that Heath Ledger, the one and only Patrick Verona whom we all first saw on our screens in the brilliant 10 Things I Hate About You, had died in some drug overdose related death in his apartment in New York.
What a way to wake up to the world, I tell you. But why, aside from psychological tiredness, do I feel the way I do? I don't know him personally, and to be honest I've only seen him in:
- 10 Things I Hate About You
- A Knight's Tale
- The Patriot
- Monster's Ball
- The Order
- The Brother's Grimm
- Brokeback Mountain
So, what is it about him and his loss that makes me feel sad (I, no, I don't believe it's because we had the sadest day in the world on Monday.
Is it his age? He was only 28... like me! Is it that he eschewed celebrity? Or that he played identifiable characters? Is it that the role of his career is coming out in July, as the Joker? Is it that we will all watch The Dark Knight and find that we're all rooting for him instead of Batman?
I just don't know, and I think that this is why it makes reactions such as mine all the more scary and sad that I don't have that answer. Back when Diana died (yes, I feel sure a lot of conversations these days can't go long without referring to Diana, Hitler, or the number of Polish immigrants leaving out of that office-cum-apartment), anyhoo, when Diana died, we woke on the Sunday morning and watched the news coverage in some shock, but nothing like what we're both, Laura and I, feeling this morning.
But does it say more about us, and our attachment to people we admire and respect, than it does about our real empathy towards the person and the loss of their life, or what their family will be feeling.
While I sat in bed, wide eyed with shock, Laura was the one to say, "But, he's got a baby and Michelle!" And promptly emphasised with them.
Long live Heath Ledger; roll on July, we look forward to your greatest role yet.