Heath Ledger interview

Oscar winner Heath Ledger takes on the role of Bob Dylan

After winning his first Oscar nomination for playing a gay ranch hand in Brokeback Mountain, Australian hunk Heath Ledger, 28, returns as one of six actors cast as Bob Dylan in Todd Haynes’ experimental biopic I’m Not There.

Were you a big Bob Dylan fan before you made I’m Not There?

Yeah, certainly in my early teen years I stumbled across Dylan. But I can’t say I was sophisticated enough to understand the genius of his poetry. I was more concerned with girls and surfing, at that age. I think in my later teen years I started to appreciate him more.

How did you approach playing your version of Bob Dylan?

Physically, I didn’t really feel the need or the responsibility to portray Dylan in any way. I felt like that was happening around me quite a lot. So with Todd’s permission, I decided to avoid the physical and vocal portrayal or imitation and just concentrate on the fragrance of the experiences he’s had. Like his struggles with love and marriage and divorce and the battle with his private life and being in the public eye, those sorts of things.

This was the only film you’ve done for a while. What have you been doing in your time off?

I just sat around and read, and lived, and played with my daughter. I really enjoyed going back to doing nothing. I do keep pre-occupied. I have a lot of great distractions outside of acting. When I’m not acting, I do like to take a year off at a time, at least if I can, just in order to keep acting exciting – otherwise I get bored very quickly.

You’re now playing the Joker in the forthcoming Batman film The Dark Knight. Were you worried about doing a huge blockbuster from the Hollywood machine?

It’s definitely a machine and you really feel it when you’re on set. The awareness of it is creepy. But I could not turn down this character. I really enjoy working behind a mask and I’m actually working behind a mask. It?s sinister and psychotic and he’s bloodthirsty. It’s just twisted and I’ve really enjoyed it.

I’m Not There opens on 21 December.

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