When Heath Ledger died while filming The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, his colleagues mourned in the best way they knew how: “For a couple days we locked ourselves in a room with red wine and prosciutto and Parmesan,” Amy Gilliam, the daughter of director Terry Gilliam and a producer on the project, tells Vanity Fair this month. But self-medicating with cured meats and cheese apparently did not help to cure this bunch of their anger, because throughout the lengthy piece — a rehashing of the affair timed to the release of the movie — Gilliam and cinematographer Nicola Pecorini take the opportunity to lash out at Michelle Williams, Ledger’s ex-girlfriend and the mother of his child. It’s pretty uncomfortable.
For starters, they infer, they were never right for each other to begin with:
“My impression was that they had nothing in common,” says Pecorini. “They didn’t fit. They kept two separate lives. She never mingled with his friends — he never mingled with her friends.” The two men say the couple’s relationship mimicked the marriage between the characters they played in Brokeback Mountain, with hers, lonely and resentful, watching his go off on his mysterious fishing trips.
Ouch. Also, Ledger was an artist, they inferred, while Williams was more commercial, kind of a careerist:
For him, they say, the Oscars were a kind of game that he went along with grudgingly, whereas Williams took the hoopla more seriously. “The whole machinery started growing up around them,” Gilliam says. “That was the moment when it changed, when he realized, Uh-oh. We perceive the world differently. He didn’t care about things like those awards.”
She practically tormented Heath regarding the custody of their daughter, Matilda, they say, and he put up with it, because he was so nice.
According to Pecorini, “Heath was always blaming himself, asking, What did I do wrong?” Adds Gilliam, “Because he’s a much nicer person than I am, he really thought he could do the right thing. He was trying to be decent and graceful, give her whatever she wanted — the house, every fucking thing. But once it started going south, it went very quickly. He was overwhelmed by lawyers, and there were more and more of them, as if they were breeding. I said, ‘This is bullshit. Heath, just end it. Get out — it’s bad. You’ve got to just walk away from it.’ The stakes kept going up. He wouldn’t listen to any of us … He was absolutely obsessed about Matilda.”
Yeah, how about that weird attachment he had to his own child. And Michelle was just so difficult about it, she like kept her away from him, like when she decided she didn’t want to put her 2-year-old on a nine-hour plane ride all by herself. If you ask these guys, that might have maybe had something to do with Heath’s death:
According to Gilliam, the separation from Matilda “was really destroying Heath, just ripping at his heart.”
Ew. Of course, this group of sophisticates would never come right out and say, “That’s what killed him!” That would be in bad taste.
The Last Of Heath [VF]