Now that the Dark Knight has broken all records at the BO, Heath left a legacy that is unforgettable. Angels do that. They visit us for short periods of time and cause huge impact on our consciousness. I always told Heath he was an ancient soul in a very young mind, a very young body. Angels, or Ancient Souls are never comfortable trapped in their human selves. They will make you restless and the need for honest creative expression of the deepest nature is a driving force. For those of you that knew his music, the other person that had that quality was Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Who I did Bandit Queen with.
My screen test with Heath for Four Feathers lasted a whole day. He would often call me down the years and laugh his deep laughter, and remember that day with a lot of affection . It was a day of deep exploration between an actor and a director of each other…..
.. it was also the day I discovered the deeper wisdom of Heath’s soul. He was, after all, only 21.
I had decided to ask him perform a love scene from the film with a very accomplished actress who had just come to help out. First I made him sit in one place so he could not escape into any body language. Neither could the girl. I needed to see what happened to his eyes.
We then spoke of love and of true love. We spoke of Wisdom and what it really meant. We spoke of the meaning of true courage was based on how you lived. Not on dying a hero’s death on the battlefield. And then we spoke of how when you are really young love was about needing. Love was about taking. Love was about hunger. But as one gathers wisdom, love becomes about giving. The more you gave, the stronger you became.
And then I made him perform the scene. First as a very young man that he was. Full of joy, anticipation and yearning. Impatient, eager and impetuous. This was the Heath we had seen. Why he was such a star amongst teenagers. He was sexy and thoroughly endearing.
But then I changed the nature of the scene. Not the dialogue. Not even the body postures. But asked Heath to perform it with Wisdom. Perform it older. Stiller. With greater strength, as a young man who had come to terms with himself and his place in the Universe.
And the transformation was fascinating and hypnotic. His eyes changed. His voice changed. His breathing changed. He began to exude strength. And it was then in his eyes I saw the old soul appear. It was then that I knew we were in the presence of not only a great actor, but a human being with potential to affect the consciousness of people.