Heath Ledger’s Anxious Habit Caused Problems On The Patriot Set

Roland Emmerich, the director of the 2000 film The Patriot, has shared insights into his time working with Heath Ledger and one of the issues he had with the actor on set.

Ledger passed away in 2008 after having become known for his roles in films such as The Dark Knight, 10 Things I Hate About You and Brokeback Mountain, and was only in his 20s when he worked with director Roland Emmerich in The Patriot.

The film stars Mel Gibson as a ‘peaceful farmer’ who is ‘driven to lead the Colonial Militia during the American Revolution when a sadistic British officer murders his son’, played by Ledger.

It was met with mixed reviews from viewers and earned an audience score of 81% on Rotten Tomatoes, but in a recent interview withYahoo! Entertainment, Emmerich revealed he actually had some trouble with Ledger while he was trying to make the film.

He explained the actor was ‘smoking a lot of stuff’ on set, and though he did not explicitly state exactly what Ledger had been smoking, the director reportedly implied that he was referring to weed.

When the crew was filming The Patriot, marijuana had not been made legal for recreational use, and did not start becoming so in some states until 2012, when Washington and Colorado became the first to legalise it.

Recalling Ledger’s behavior on set, Emmerich said, ‘He was so young. … He was just still a kid and he brought one or two of his friends to the set. And they were smoking a lot of stuff.’

Emmerich explained that the smoking became such an issue that at one point producer Dean Devlin was forced to intervene, but the director noted that ‘didn’t work’.

In a bid to nip the problem in the bud — excuse the pun — the creators encouraged Gibson to chat to Ledger about the situation.

Emmerich said, ‘So we had Mel talk to him about it and that worked. … [Ledger] was super nervous about starring opposite Mel Gibson, which [was] his all-time favorite actor. … That was just incredibly nerve-wracking. He wanted to calm his nerves.’

Ledger appears alongside Gibson in a number of scenes in the film, which no doubt played a part in the anxiety he had about filming, and ScreenRant notes that Gibson had originally advocated for another actor to take the role.

Thankfully, Gibson appeared to come around to Ledger as he helped him put a stop to his smoking habit, allowing the pair to create the film as we know it today.

Leave a Reply