In spite of the fact that Gemma Ward spoke in February about going bush in Australia in the wake of the death of mate Heath Ledger, I was sceptical about a recent blog post which has been doing the rounds, which claims that Ward recently trekked Nepal's Annapurna Circuit.
You would figure that if it had been Ward, there would have been some clear photographic evidence – and not just a long-distance shot of a tiny figure, with the caption “That’s Gemma!”, followed by a second shot on a separate blog of the back of a blonde woman’s head.
Not to mention a highly suspicious Photoshop job (above) involving a modelling image of Ward mashed up against a Nepalese mountain backdrop.
The original post was published on July 9 on a blog called Uncornered Market, penned by adventurers Audrey Scott and Daniel Noll. The story has since appeared on a number of web forums and blogs.
Ward's New York agency IMG told me overnight that noone has so far bothered to check the story's bona fides.
But in the event that anyone is remotely interested in accuracy, here’s the word from IMG – yes it is her.
The reason there are no shots, say Scott and Noll, is because they did not realise who Ward was until after the trek was over.
When Scott and Noll returned to civilisation, they checked Ward's identity on the net, confirming the trekking rumours:
“And we only truly believed them when we connected to the internet and found the photo above. By then it was too late to play alpine paparazzi”.
According to Scott and Noll, Ward “was quite like the rest of us” and:
“shared the same outhouses, slept in the same bug-ridden lodges, ate the same repetitive food (although she did splurge for yak curry when the rest of us were too cheap), experienced the same altitude anxieties and faced the same prospect of being trampled by yaks”.
But a few things did single Ward out from the other trekkers, say the bloggers, who also report that Ward:
• Had a “good hair day” every day, even on days with cold, or no, showers at 5000 metres.
• Had her guide carry an acoustic guitar and spent 5-10 minutes playing after each meal.
• Had a porter carry two “mysterious....fully stuffed body-sized waterproof bags”. (Ward’s comment on the contents: “Stuff”)
• Drank US$5 bottled mineral water while the other trekkers disinfected the local water with iodine tablets or chlorine drops.
Meanwhile Variety reports that North American rights for Ward’s debut feature The Black Balloon, which grossed $2million at the Australian box office, have just been picked up, with a view to an October release in “key US cities”.