I, like most people, was shocked when I heard that Heath Ledger passed away. Though he was not my favorite actor, I'd enjoyed his performances in several of his movies ("The Brothers Grimm" and "10 Things I Hate About You" really stood out). But it was his characterization of Ennis Del Mar in "Brokeback Mountain" that sealed his legend for me.
It was arguably one of the most heart wrenching performances that I have ever seen on screen. I felt that he captured the torture of the closet perfectly, and I couldn't help but remember when I felt some of the feelings he articulated through his actions and words. I couldn't help but think of the millions of closeted individuals who are suffering as Ennis did, even in the face of the possibility of happiness (like Jack Twist offered Ennis).
I am one of those who felt that the Academy denied "Brokeback Mountain" its due honors, particularly Ledger, and I am a huge fan of Phillip Seymour Hoffman. But that is water under the bridge. His performance was legend, and he deserved the accolades he received. I am sad to know that we will not be able to see how much more he could have done.