Appearing at a news conference at the Venice Film Festival in September to promote the Bob Dylan biopic “I’m Not There,” Heath Ledger, who died on Tuesday , spoke of his “obsession with an artist by the name of Nick Drake,” an English-born singer/songwriter whom he characterized as a “very mysterious figure.”
“I was obsessed with his story and his music and I pursued it for a while and still have hopes to kind of tell his story one day,” a soft-spoken and fidgety Ledger told the assembled media, though he also said that any such aspirations had “faded away.”
But in an eerie postscript to the actor’s own death on Tuesday, MTV News has learned that Ledger recently shot and edited a music video for a Drake song called “Black Eyed Dog,” so titled because of a Winston Churchill quote describing depression as such. It is also reportedly the last song Drake recorded before overdosing on antidepression medication in 1974 at the age of 26.
A representative for Drake’s estate described the “gorgeous” and “extremely moving” clip as a stark black-and-white composition, consisting mainly of the director turning the camera on himself. In the end, Ledger is seen drowning himself in a bathtub.
The video, which has not been released commercially and has apparently not yet leaked to the Web, has been screened just twice, once last Labor Day weekend at the Bumbershoot festival in Seattle and a second time in October at “A Place to Be,” an event honoring Drake held in Los Angeles.
Ledger also directed Ben Harper’s video for “Morning Yearning” and announced plans to start a label with the singer called Masses Music Co. last year. The label’s first signing was a singer from Ledger’s hometown of Perth, Australia, named Grace Woodroofe; Ledger also directed a video for her cover of David Bowie’s “Quicksand.”
While Drake garnered just a cult following during his life, his music has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years. In 2000, Volkswagen scored a ubiquitous television ad with the title track from his 1972 album, Pink Moon, after which Drake’s albums reportedly sold more in one month than they had in the previous 30 years. This past November, fans were treated to a limited-edition box set that included not only the three albums Drake recorded in his short career, but also a book and a DVD documentary about his life.(Watch Heath Ledger talk about his evolution as an actor in a 2005 interview.)