Mr. Brownstone: Heath Ledger

Photo: Neil Rasmus/Patrick McMullan

Brooklyn’s most famous father has finally come down from Brokeback Mountain to deliver an itchy, sweaty, sexy turn as a heroin-addicted poet who falls in love with an innocent young beauty (Abbie Cornish) in the Australian indie Candy. Logan Hill spoke with Ledger about drugs, Dylan, and the press.

Have you ever done heroin?
No. And I didn’t consider doing it for the movie. It has been so romanticized through music, literature, and movies, I kind of feel like anybody on the street could portray a junkie. But I’ve smoked a joint before, so I know what it’s like to be high. I’m addicted to tobacco, so I know what an addiction is—you just amplify it.

What makes Candy different from the other drug movies?
I know we’ve seen heroin a million times in movies … but I’d read the novel and liked it. But mainly for me, it was the opportunity to work in Australia and to speak with an Australian accent again.

Your co-star Abbie Cornish is breaking out.
She’s the real deal. She’s explosive as an actress, just explosive within each scene.

She’s also been in the tabloids of late. Have you given her any advice on how to handle that?

Are things better, paparazzi-wise, in Brooklyn?
Absolutely. We probably get two lone photographers who wander out to Brooklyn maybe twice a year. It’s the closest we’ve ever come to feeling like we can lead a normal life, so we really value it. We know everyone on our block. We’ve localized ourselves. I don’t think there’s another place on earth I’d rather be right now. We’re very happy.

You’ve been active in protesting Ratner’s plans.
Michelle’s kind of the front-runner for that cause, but I think we’ll participate in some fund-raising.

Now that you have a child, do you plan to trade off films?
We do like to have one work on, one work off. It’s the only way to really manage a relationship in this business. We don’t want to just dump her with a nanny.

You were recently away shooting Todd Haynes’s Dylan movie. What part of Dylan’s vibe do you play?
It has to do with his family, the divorce—it was a quite chauvinistic time for him. I actually play an actor who plays Dylan in a movie, so the Dylan he’s playing in the film is actually played by Christian [Bale].

I think I understand.
It’s wild. The footage I saw was just beautiful.

ThinkFilm; November 17

Mr. Brownstone: Heath Ledger