Heath Ledger: Sweat

Heath Ledger: Sweat
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Early in his career Heath Ledger starred as Snowy Bowles - a young, gay cyclist - in the 26-part series Sweat, pitched at young adults.

Set in an Australian school for athletically-gifted teens, Snowy is subjected to homophobic abuse in this clip, which leads him to come out to his friend Danny (played by Matt Castelli).

When talking on A Current Affair in 2000, Ledger said this role – his first recurring part in a series – almost led to him quitting acting. He commented, 'I had no idea what I was doing ... what my hands [were] doing... I was ready to quit'.

It is clear that Ledger and his fellow young actors are somewhat nervous novices, even under the guidance of the experienced director, Dan Burstall (The Flying Doctors, Heartbreak High). This results in some awkward dialogue, gestures and blocking in these two scenes.

Ledger might not know what to do with his hands, but he definitely has an authentic screen presence and he makes you empathise with the dilemmas Snowy faces. This is a great example of his early work. It was also significant to have an out gay main character in an Australian TV series like this in the late 1990s.

Notes by Beth Taylor