Australian actress Katherine Langford, who shot to fame in Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, says that she grew up with “a lot of respect” for Heath Ledger. But the connection runs much deeper than that. Katherine and Heath both grew up in Perth and Katherine even went to school with his sister.
“For me, acting and art and music never felt like a real thing. It never felt like an achievable thing,” Katherine tells WHO.
“And it always felt, in some ways, so far away. But when I look back, growing up with his sister and hearing stories about Heath… I am realising now how close it really was.”
While Katherine might have been too young to realise the impact of Heath’s work, it’s something she fully appreciates now.
“I wasn’t old enough to realize the significance of his work or of his talent. But the older that I have gotten and now that I am working in the industry… I felt like he left such a wonderful mark,” she says.
Speaking of home, Katherine has returned to Australian shores to attend the premiere of her film Love, Simon this Sunday. The 21-year-old stars as Leah Baker, the best friend of the film’s main character Simon (Nick Robinson).
And now, with her second film (and a successful TV show) under her belt, Katherine reflects on how long it took her to admit that this was her ultimate career dream.
“I think the older I got and the more I was at school, the more I tried out different things, I just kept coming back to what I loved, which was music and which was drama,” the actress says.
“And it took me until I was 19 to actually say it out loud to my parents, which was I want to do this. And it was frightening because I didn’t know if I would succeed.”
But, succeed she has. While 13 Reasons Why might have been her first job in the industry, it put her on the map in a big way. Katherine fondly recalls her first fan experience at a restaurant in Savannah, which occurred while she was shooting Love, Simon.
“It was a waiter, and she went ‘you really look like that girl in the show 13 Reasons Why.’ And I told her ‘I am’. And she was like ‘no, no you are not’ (laughs). And I went ‘no I am’, like back and forth. And then we left and we walked away from this restaurant and we were probably like a block away or something. And then I suddenly hear, ‘wait!’ And this woman is chasing me down the street like ‘I didn’t believe you’ and [she] took a photo of me. And that was my first fan interaction,” Katherine laughs.