Daniel Day-Lewis Dedicates His SAG Award to Heath Ledger

January 28, 2008

Daniel Day-LewisI'm sorry that this is the day that so many heartfelt tributes to Heath Ledger are mentioned, but they're too incredible to be passed up. I'm less worried that I'm posting so many and more worried that these are going to cause so many people to get upset again. As I mentioned yesterday, Daniel Day-Lewis won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role for There Will Be Blood. In his brilliant acceptance speech, Day-Lewis dedicated his SAG award to Heath Ledger, a man he has never met and never worked with but has immense appreciation and respect for. What he says about Heath is incredible. Both Christopher Nolan's Tribute to Heath and now Daniel Day-Lewis' dedication are emotional to read, as they are both full of so much heart.

Daniel Day-Lewis's entire acceptance speech has been written out below. You can watch the video of it over at

Thank you. I'm very, very proud of this. Thank you so much for giving it to me. And I'm very proud to be included in that group of wonderful actors this year.

You know, for as long as I can remember, the thing that gave me a sense of wonderment, of renewal, the thing that teased me with the question, how is such a thing possible, and then dare you to go back into the arena of one more time, with longing and self-doubt, jostling in the balance. It's always been the work of other actors, and there are many actors in this room tonight, including my fellow nominees who have given that sense of regeneration and…

Heath Ledger gave it to me. In "Monster's Ball," that character that he created, it seemed to be almost like an unformed being, retreating from themselves, retreating from his father, from his life, even retreating from us, and yet we wanted to follow him, and yet we're scared to follow him almost. It was unique. And then, of course, in "Brokeback Mountain," he was unique, he was perfect. And that scene in the trailer at the end of the film is as moving as anything that I think I've ever seen. And I'd like to dedicate this to Heath Ledger. So, thank you very much.

Like Forest Whitaker's acceptance speech at last year's Oscars, these are the kind of powerful words that will resonate far and wide. Only someone capable of such an incredible performance as in There Will Be Blood is capable of speaking such moving things in an acceptance speech, and I commend Daniel Day-Lewis for a wonderful tribute and dedication.

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  • Heckle
    That acceptance speech was very weird. Here is one of the greatest actors of our generation getting caught up in the moment of the tragic death of a so-so actor. At least he didn't say..."I was so caught up in the way he took command of the screen in 10 Things I Hate About You...or the way he shook my very being in First Knight" Pshaw. This would be like Ernest Hemingway accepting an award and giving pause to dedicate the award to the creator of Garfield the comic strip.
  • Spider
    I totally agree with you, Heckle. I was left agog and aghast.
  • Heckle0
    Not sure who you are Heckle but i am asking you to change your name. I am heckle and i totally disagree with your comment. Ledger was a good actor and was getting better. His last several roles were fantastic. Had he lived and gone on i bet he would have been great.
  • Heckle
    Okay....Heckle0....I will stop posting using this name. I am pretty new to the site so I will defer to your polite request. I shall refrain from using it in the future. Don't know what I shall use...but I'll adhere to it from now on.
  • Liz
    There are a lot of people who feel Ledger's loss without having been friends with him or without working with him, and I think Day-Lewis is doing a great job of vocalizing those particular kinds of sentiments in an incredibly classy way. Day-Lewis is a notorious recluse, so you know that his saying these sorts of things is because he feels affected and not because he wants the attention. I'm kind of glad that of everything that's being said in the wake of Ledger's death, it's Day-Lewis' words that are standing out the most.
  • Heckle0
    I thank you. I've been posting here for quite a while using it and would hate for there to be confusion. BTw....think up a good one because the forums will hopefully be up soon and you can register it there as well. Perhaps Jeckle?
  • KaiserSoze
    I think this shall be my new name. (my fave movie character) My apologies once again, Heckle. Hopefully no one is using it. :)
  • Timothy R
    This just shows what type of a human being Daniel Day-Lewis is. I respect him that much more now! Really touching speech!
  • Heckle
    Wait a minute! I am the real Heckle. I don't know about all you zombies... (I agree, Heath was improving as an actor... his death was a shame)
  • Sobrin O'Keatle
    I think to say that Heath was a "so-so" actor and that he was "improving" are both statements from obvious layman. The art of film-making is an often misjudged form, and apparently the same goes here. Heath Ledger was a phenomenal actor whose performances in anything from "The Patriot" to "Monster's Ball" to the often misunderstood "Brokeback Mountain" were fine tuned, memorable works of art. I thought it was great that Daniel Day-Lewis took a moment of his personal victory to express his love for the works of a fallen actor.
  • TCox
    We all have people who inspire us. Whether it be a co-worker, a teacher, parent, friend, etc. I think it's a great testament to Ledger's work as an actor, to have someone who is without a doubt the best, paid tribute in such a way. I think it was the classiest thing I've seen an actor do. His intentions were not on drawing attention to himself. He was truly affected by Ledger's death. For those of you who are not familiar with Lewis, here are some great films to get aquainted with: Last of the Mohicans In The Name of the Father The Crucible The Boxer Gangs of New York There Will Be Blood etc.
  • Djoser
    Daniel Day Lewis is such a class act, that this is just another example of how far and above our expectations this man is willing to go to to show us how genuinely human an actor can be- be it through his investment in his characters, or through public displays such as this. Looking across the board, it's entirely possible that he laments the lost potential in an actor who was making consistently unorthodox choices in his roles. Who else of this generation of actors is making those choices and delivering to the extent that Heath was? I'm sure none of us would disagree it's a huge step from 10 things I hate about you to Brokeback, and what is looking to be a startling portrayal of a murderous lunatic- again, against the grain, beyond expectations, and without any clear precedent. Daniel Day is simply aknowledging the passing of someone he considered a possible kin. (If you're up for it, add 'The Ballad of Jack & Rose' to that list. A jarring, somewhat twisted yarn that was written specifically for Daniel Day Lewis by his own wife, who's also an extremely talented writer.) It's a shame. My first reaction was not unlike some of those portrayed here. "Heath Ledger?? What has HE ever proven to lead me to believe in his acting ability??? No wonder he used prescription drugs. He couldn't find depth in a character any other way!" But look at his career, in the midst of the places Hollywood has sunk to over the past decade-and-a-half. It stands alone. And it speaks for itself. Let's let the legacy of his unfulfilled youth rest in peace.
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