Almost immediately after the sudden death of Oscar-nominated actor Heath Ledger on Tuesday, tributes from colleagues, friends, family members and fans began to flood in. Many have been moved to honor the man some called one of the best actors of his generation.
Now, three days after Ledger’s death, many awards shows are trying to figure out how best to do the same thing.
“Something’s gonna be done,” a representative for the Independent Spirit Awards, who did not want to be named, told MTV News. “We just don’t yet know what.”
A previous ISA Best Male Lead nominee for “Brokeback Mountain,” Ledger was slated to receive the Robert Altman Award with director Todd Haynes and the cast of “I’m Not There,” a film in which Ledger was one of six actors to play the role of Bob Dylan. The 28-year-old actor was to be among the very first recipients of the award, named last year in honor of director Robert Altman.
Ledger’s presence at the ceremony, which he attended last year with then-fiancee Michelle Williams, will be sorely missed and appropriately noted, sources said.
“Obviously it’s on everybody’s minds over here. It’s been discussed: ‘What are we going to do about Heath?’ ” another ISA source, who also did not want to be named, revealed to MTV News. “We’re figuring out what to do, but we’re working on something. Luckily, we’ve got a month.”
Compounding the delicate matter for the ISA is the fact that Ledger is not the only nominee to pass away. Also up for an award is writer/director Adrienne Shelly, who was murdered in New York in November 2006. A nominee for Best Screenplay (“Waitress”), Shelly and Ledger will be similarly honored, according to the ISA.
While the Independent Spirit Awards has time on its hands in composing an appropriate tribute, the Screen Actors Guild Awards is not so fortunate. Though not up for a SAG Award this year, Ledger, a two-time nominee — again, for his work on “Brokeback Mountain” — should be honored at this year’s ceremony if time permits, a source told MTV News. A representative for the awards show said they were working furiously to insert Ledger into a video-memoriam package, although it’s been complicated by the fact that he died so close to the show’s airdate, which is Sunday.
Also planning to acknowledge Ledger is the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Awards, a show that honors individuals and projects for their positive representations of the gay community. Along with co-star Jake Gyllenhaal, Ledger was lauded for his portrayal of a homosexual ranch hand in Ang Lee’s “Brokeback Mountain.”
“GLAAD intends on acknowledging Heath Ledger’s death at the 19th annual GLAAD Media Awards,” publicist Nick Adams told MTV News. “We are still in the early stage of production, and do not know at this time what form that will take.”
Representatives for the Academy Awards could not be reached by press time.
The most interesting tribute, however, may not come from colleagues. In the wake of Ledger’s death, the Web site WhySoSerious.com — which for months has been the primary location of online viral marketing for “The Dark Knight” — was updated recently with a black ribbon. Ledger recently completed his role as the Joker in the highly anticipated sequel.
For more on Heath Ledger’s tragic passing, read reactions from his admirers, as well as casting directors he worked with. Also, watch Ledger talk about his evolution as an actor in a 2005 interview with MTV News.