I was sadden by the recent news of the young actor, Heath Ledger, passing away from an accidental drug overdose at his apartment in New York this week. Ledger was a rising star in Hollywood, who many believed had just hit his stride in his career before his untimely death. Born in Australia in 1979, Ledger’s first experience with acting came when he won the lead role in a local production of Peter Pan at age 10. Coming to America, he found his big Hollywood break in 2000 when Mel Gibson hand-picked him for the role of Gabriel, the recklessly headstrong son of Mel Gibson's Revolutionary armed force leader in the movie, The Patriot.
With a number of hit movies to his credit since then, such as Monster’s Ball, The Four Feathers and Brokeback Mountain, in which he received an Academy Award nomination along with the upcoming release of The Dark Knight, Ledger had made an incredible impact on the film industry in a short time and had a promising future ahead of him.
Admittedly, I have not seen the majority of Ledger’s films as of yet, but I did see one of them a few years ago which left a great impression upon me. It was the 14th century, action-packed movie with a twist called, The Knight’s Tale, released in 2001. The Knight’s Tale was one of the first DVD’s I had ever owned and I watched it at least a zillion times, causing it to be on the top of my most favorite movies list. I enjoyed it so much because of the creative story line and because of Ledger’s outstanding performance as the lead character, Sir William Thatcher.
William Thatcher was born a peasant squire and would have lived and died as such had it not been for his father’s impressionable words to him as a young boy. “A man can change his stars William” he said. Determined to test his father’s words, Thatcher broke all the rules of his day and passed himself off as a nobleman in order to participate in the competitive world of jousting. Threatened by his quick rise to success, his rival Count Adhemar, did all he could to keep Thatcher from achieving his goal of becoming the world champion and making a name for himself. Despite all his efforts, Adhemar was unable to prevent the young man from fulfilling his true destiny. Through developing his skills with a horse and a lance along with his pure heart and determination to be a nobleman, the peasant Thatcher, pretending to be noble didn’t have to pretend for long. In the end, Prince Edward, who carried all authority in England and who also happened to love jousting, recognized Thatcher’s true knightly character and publicly appointed him as Sir William Thatcher--The noble knight.
Not only did I find Ledger’s performance incredibly believable which is why I kept watching the movie over and over again but more than that, the storyline itself struck a chord with me. As a believer, “changing my stars” was something I could relate to. No, not literally from the astrology and the universe lining up for my benefit aspect but simply as a person born in sin, needing a savior to fulfill my destiny for greatness.
The Bible teaches that because of the fall of Adam and Eve, we are all born in sin, we are all born apart from God. born in a state that we were never meant for but a greater destiny awaits us all. Just as Sir William Thatcher was destined to be a knight, 1 Peter 2: 9-10 tells us that we are all destined to be prince’s and princess’s. We are destined for royalty as the children of God.
William Thatcher had to forge papers of nobility and joust his way to the top in order to “Change his stars.” Fortunately for us, all we need to do is ask. No jousting, no paper forging, no need for Prince Edward to appoint us publicly, all we need to do is go to God in prayer ask Him to change us from peasant to prince and He will. Romans 10:9 clearly states, “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” It’s that simple! Five little words, sincerely released from your heart, I believe Jesus is Lord, can change your stars--I know they changed mine.
While Hollywood mourns the loss of one of their fellow actors, I will forever be grateful to Heath Ledger for playing his convincing role as the knight, Sir William in such away that I was reminded that a man and woman can change their stars by believing in the son of God.