Heath Ledger is horrified that some people who watched him introduce a clip from “Brokeback Mountain” at the Screen Actors Guild Awards misinterpreted his stage fright as some kind of gay spoof.
Ledger, speaking from his cell phone, called to explain. Seems the jitters started when he was sitting at the table with the “Brokeback” cast and he wondered aloud who was going to introduce their cast.
“I leaned over and asked Jake [Gyllenhaal] and he said, ‘WE are! Didn’t you get the script?’ I said, WHAT? I thought it was a script for the Directors Guild Awards a few nights earlier.”
He and Gyllenhaal raced backstage to read it and try to rehearse. But there was no time and they were told to go out onstage. Gulp.
“I’m nervous under any circumstances in front of crowds," says Ledger. "I am not a public speaker and never will be. I was so nervous before the DGA Awards backstage that my jaw was jittering and I could not get the words out. I’m just not one of those naturally funny relaxed actors who enjoy the spotlight and are so good at it. And this was really weird because we were basically introducing ourselves, like here’s this brilliant cast and guess what, it’s us.”
So he got the giggles. Who wouldn’t? “How can you say all that stuff — ‘two brave cowboys’ — with a straight face? It was just so surreal.”
As for his self-described “teacup hand” position. “I’ve stood like that since I was a kid. You can ask me mum. It’s nerves I guess. I’m a very fidgety person, always moving, never able to sit or stand still.”
Ledger wanted to set the record straight before any harm was done. “I am so sorry and I apologize for my nervousness. I would be absolutely horrified if my stage fright was misinterpreted as a lack of respect for the film, the topic and for the amazing filmmakers.”