Heath Ledger is gone, but he will never be forgotten by his friends in the film industry, especially by director Christopher Nolan.
Christopher Nolan can be considered one of the best directors of recent times and the man has finally earned his first-ever Golden Globes for directing the 2023 biopic "Oppenheimer." However, as he climbed the stage to receive his award, the 53-year-old filmmaker couldn't help but reflect on the last time he had been on the same stage, but for a particularly bittersweet reason.
Nolan ensured to mention the late actor Heath Ledger, for whom he had substituted as the award recipient back in 2009 for Ledger's iconic performance as The Joker in "The Dark Knight," per The Independent. Switching back to Nolan winning his first Golden Globes in 2024, he admitted that his experience, while receiving the award on behalf of Ledger in 2009, was "complicated and challenging."
"Thank you. The only time I've ever been on this stage before accepting one of these on behalf of our dear friend Heath Ledger and that was complicated and challenging for me." Nolan said in his acceptance speech in 2024. "In the middle of speaking, I glanced up and Robert Downey Jr. caught my eye and gave me a look of love and support–the same look he's giving me now." The camera at the ceremony captured Downey Jr. smiling and silently showing his support to Nolan from the audience as well.
"I thought it'd be simpler accepting for myself, but as I stand here, I realize I can only accept this on behalf of people," the director said as he went on to name all the prominent actors who were part of his film "Oppenheimer," which has been hailed as the third most successful movie of the year after "Barbie" and "The Super Mario Bros Movie." Nolan might not have climbed the Golden Globes podium more than two times as of now, but he is not a stranger in the ceremony either.
Christopher Nolan directing Heath Ledger on the set of— Christopher Nolan Art & Updates (@NolanAnalyst) August 1, 2023
The Dark Knight (2008) pic.twitter.com/tnHEG7Bi2o
The revered filmmaker has been nominated six times previously as he finally bagged his well-deserved Golden Globes for directing the biopic on J. Robert Oppenheimer, the American theoretical physicist who was the director of the famous Manhattan Project, often referred to as "the father of the atomic bomb." Nolan added during his speech, "As directors, we bring people together and we try to get them to give their best. Robert, Cillian, my partner in crime of 20 years, Matt [Damon], Florence Pugh and Emily [Blunt] – the incredible work of our amazing crew."
In an early interview with BBC One, Nolan spoke about Ledger's unforgettable performance as the arch-nemesis of Batman in "The Dark Knight." The film trilogy has become some of the most beloved films for fans of Batman. And part of that has much to do with Ledger's performance as The Joker. Nolan recalled Ledger not telling him much about what he was going to do but tested the waters a bit. "I took huge pride in having been in any way involved with this great performer and his legacy," Nolan said in the interview.
"He was an extraordinary person and an extraordinary actor. And for him to be recognized in that way, I think, was very meaningful for his family and meaningful, I think, for film history. What he contributed, and he contributed in many different ways to film history, but that it be marked in that way, I was very proud to be a part of it," Nolan concluded. For now, the "Oppenheimer" team won big at the award ceremony as the protagonist of the film, Cillian Murphy took home the Best Actor award, Ludwig Göransson won for scoring the movie, Robert Downey Jr. bagged the trophy for Best Supporting Actor in a Movie and "Oppenheimer" was crowned as the Best Movie in the drama category as well.