Heath Ledger

Australian actor (1979-2008)

Heath Andrew Ledger (April 4, 1979 – January 22, 2008) was an Oscar-winning actor from Australia. Ledger started acting on television in the 1990s and then began acting in Hollywood movies. He was an important actor in many movies, including The Patriot, Monster's Ball, and Brokeback Mountain. He acted as The Joker in The Dark Knight. Ledger died in New York City on January 22, 2008.[1] His last movie, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, came out in 2009.[2]

Heath Ledger
Heath Ledger.jpg
Born
Heath Andrew Ledger

(1979-04-04)4 April 1979
Died22 January 2008(2008-01-22) (aged 28)
Cause of deathCardiac arrest caused by prescription drug
Body discoveredNew York City, New York, U.S.
Resting placeKarrakatta Cemetery
OccupationActor, music video director
Years active1993–2008
Partner(s)Michelle Williams (2004–07)
Children1
Parent(s)
  • Kim Ledger
  • Sally Ledger
RelativesAshleigh Bell (sister, born 1990)
Olivia Ledger (sister, born 1996)
Signature
Heath Ledger's signature.svg

Early life and familyEdit

Heath Ledger was born in Perth, Western Australia. Heath and his sister Katherine were named after the two main characters in the book Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. Ledger went to Guildford Grammar School, where he started acting. When he was 10 years old, he acted in a school play as Peter Pan.[3]

CareerEdit

Early careerEdit

When he was sixteen years old, Ledger graduated school early to become an actor.[4] With his best friend, Trevor DiCarlo, Ledger drove across Australia to Sydney. He came back to Perth in to act in the television series Sweat which was on television in 1996. In this series, he played a gay bicycle rider.[3]

In 1996, Ledger acted in the fantasy-drama television series Roar. In 1999, Ledger had the main role in the teen comedy movie 10 Things I Hate About You. He also had the main role in the Australian movie Two Hands, directed by Gregor Jordan.[3]

2000–2008Edit

From 2000 to 2005, Ledger had main acting roles in many movies, like The Patriot, Monster's Ball, A Knight's Tale, The Four Feathers, Ned Kelly, The Order, and The Brothers Grimm. In 2001, he won a prize called the ShoWest Award for the "Male Star of Tomorrow" for his acting in The Patriot and A Knight's Tale. In 2003, he was named one of Australian GQ's "Men of the Year" for acting.

Ledger was given the "Best Actor of 2005" award from both the New York Film Critics Circle and the San Francisco Film Critics Circle for his acting in Brokeback Mountain. In this movie, he plays a worker on a ranch in Wyoming named Ennis Del Mar, who is in love with a rodeo performer named Jack Twist, who is played by Jake Gyllenhaal. He also was nominated to win a Golden Globe award "Best Actor in a Drama" and the Academy Award for Best Actor for this acting, but he did not win either prize.

Also in 2005, Ledger acted as the character Giacomo Casanova in the romantic comedy movie called Casanova. This movie also included actress Sienna Miller.

In 2006, Ledger was asked to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.[5] In 2007, he was one of six actors to act as different sides of singer Bob Dylan in the movie I'm Not There.

Ledger acted in the role of the comic book villain The Joker in the movie The Dark Knight. This movie follows the 2005 movie Batman Begins. The movie was released on July 18, 2008.[6] He was given respect and many awards for how well he acted in this film, even though he died six months before it was shown in movie theaters. Some of these awards were the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Also after he died, the movie The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus was first shown in movie theaters in 2009. Ledger was supposed to act as the main role of Doctor Parnassus, but he only filmed about half of the scenes before he died. The director for this movie, Terrry Gilliam, decided that the movie would be changed so that three other actors would also act as this character in some parts of the movie. The other actors were Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, and Jude Law, who were all friends with Heath Ledger before he died.[7]

MusicEdit

Ledger started a record company with a singer named Ben Harper. In 2006, Ledger was the director of three music videos. The songs for these music videos were "Cause an Effect" and "Seduction Is Evil (She's Hot)" by Australian hip-hop musician N'fa, and "Morning Yearning" by Ben Harper.

Public imageEdit

Press receptionEdit

Ledger had problems with paparazzi. It is said that he spat at and assaulted a photographer in Sydney in 2004. His relative is also said to have spat on a photographer in 2005. Ledger said this was not true.[8]

Ledger caused problems after he was quoted in January 2006 in Australia's Herald Sun saying that West Virginia had banned Brokeback Mountain when it had not. He also said the state had lynchings as recently as the 1980s. These statements have been said to not be true by historians, who said that the last illegal public hanging in West Virginia happened in 1931.[9]

Personal lifeEdit

From August 2002 to April 2004, Ledger had a relationship with actress Naomi Watts. They met when they both acted in the movie Ned Kelly.[10] Before that, he dated the actresses Lisa Zane and Heather Graham.

Ledger was engaged to actress Michelle Williams, whom he met while making the movie Brokeback Mountain.[11][12] They had one daughter, Matilda Rose, was born on October 28, 2005 in New York City.

In August 2007, the magazine Us Weekly said that Ledger and Williams ended their relationship. Ledger and Williams both said that the rumor was not true at that time. In September 2007, Williams' father, Larry, told the Sydney Daily Telegraph that Ledger and Williams had separated.[13]

DeathEdit

Ledger was found dead in his apartment [14][15] in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City on January 22, 2008. Ledger's body was found by a housekeeper and a massage therapist, who entered the bedroom to find him face down on the floor with sleeping pills on a nearby table.[16] The police said that it did not look like the death was suicide. They also did not think his death was caused by someone else.[17]

On January 23, 2008, Ledger's parents and sister appeared outside Ledger's mother's house in Applecross, Western Australia and read a short statement to news reporters:

"We, Heath's family, confirm the very tragic, untimely and accidental passing of our dearly loved son, brother and doting father of Matilda, who was found in a peaceful sleep in his New York apartment by his housekeeper at 3:30pm [New York Time]. We would like to thank our friends and everyone around the world for their kind wishes at this time. Heath has touched so many people on so many different levels during his short life, but few had the pleasure to truly know him. He was a down-to-earth, generous, kind-hearted, life-loving and unselfish individual who was an extreme inspiration to many. Please now respect our family's need to grieve and come to terms with our loss privately."[18]

The Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd released a statement saying, "It was with great sadness that I have learned of the passing of Heath Ledger... It is tragic that we have lost one of our nation's finest actors in the prime of his life."[19]

FilmographyEdit

Movies
Year Title Role Other notes
1997 Paws Oberon
Blackrock Toby
1999 10 Things I Hate About You Patrick Verona
Two Hands Jimmy AFI Award nominee (Best Actor in a Leading Role)
2000 The Patriot Gabriel Martin
2001 Monster's Ball Sonny Grotowski
A Knight's Tale Sir William Thatcher/
Sir Ulrich von Lichtenstein of Gelderland
2002 The Four Feathers Harry Faversham
2003 The Order Alex Bernier
Ned Kelly Ned Kelly AFI Award nominee (Best Actor in a Leading Role)
2005 Casanova Giacomo Casanova
Brokeback Mountain Ennis del Mar Academy Award nominee (Best Lead Actor)
Golden Globe nominee (Best Lead Actor - Drama)
BAFTA Award nominee (Best Lead Actor)
SAG nominee (Best Lead Actor, Best Ensemble Cast)
AFI Award (Best Lead Actor)
The Brothers Grimm Jacob Grimm
Lords of Dogtown Skip Engblom
2006 Candy Dan AFI Award nominee (Best Actor in a Leading Role)
IF Award nominee (Best Actor)
FCCA Award nominee (Best Actor)
2007 I'm Not There. Robbie Clark
2008 The Dark Knight The Joker Golden Globe Winner, (Best Supporting Actor)

Academy Award Winner (Actor in a Leading Role)

Tree of Life incomplete
2009 The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus Tony (sharing character with Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law) Incomple performance
Television
1992 Clowning Around
1997 Home and Away Scott Irwin
Roar Conor
1996 Sweat Snowy Bowles

Awards and nominationsEdit

If an award in this list is marked as "Nominated," it means that people were thinking about giving that award to Heath Ledger but chose to give it to someone else.

ReferencesEdit

  1. "Actor Heath Ledger is found dead". Agence France-Presse. 2008-01-22. Archived from the original on 2008-01-24. Retrieved 2008-01-23.
  2. "Actor Heath Ledger continuing to act". IMDb.com. 2008-10-20. Retrieved 2008-10-20.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "HEATH LEDGER BIOGRAPHY". Tiscali film & tv. Archived from the original on 2009-02-28. Retrieved 2008-01-23.
  4. "Transcript. Rolling Stone interview". Rolling Stone. March 2006. Retrieved 2008-01-23.
  5. "Academy Invites 120 to Membership". Press Release. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. July 5, 2006. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
  6. "Heath Ledger? It's TRUE". NEWS ARCHIVES 47. BATMAN ON FILM. July 21, 2006. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
  7. "Terry Gilliam: The 'Imaginarium' That Almost Wasn't". NPR. 19 December 2009. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  8. Snead, Elizabeth (2006-02-03). "Heath explains his SAG giggles". Styles & Scenes. Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2007-08-12. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
  9. "When'd we stop stringing 'em up in West Virginia?". 2006-01-16. Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
  10. Gary Susman (2003-10-01). "Naomi Watts and Heath Ledger split". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 2008-12-18. Retrieved 2008-01-23.
  11. Kiki King, Eva Simpson & Caroline Hedley (2006-03-03). "THE HEATH IS ON". The Daily Mirror. Archived from the original on 2008-01-28. Retrieved 2007-08-17.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. Eva Simpson & Caroline Hedley (2007-01-24). "MICHELLE MARRIES HEATH LEDGER". The Daily Mirror. Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2007-08-17.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. WENN (2007-09-04). "Williams father confirms Ledger split". Hollywood.com. Archived from the original on 2012-05-26. Retrieved 2008-01-23.
  14. Sewell Chan (2008-01-22). "The death of Heath Ledger". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  15. Tom Hays (2008-01-22). "Heath Ledger Found Dead in NYC at Age 28". Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-01-22.[permanent dead link]
  16. "Heath Ledger Found Dead in NYC Apartment". MSNBC. 2008-01-22. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  17. James Barron (2008-01-23). "Heath Ledger, Actor, Is Found Dead at 28". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-23.
  18. "Heath Ledger loved life, family tell". Daily Telegraph (Australia). 2008-01-23. Retrieved 2008-01-23.
  19. "Ledger's death a tragic accident: family". ninemsn. 2008-01-23. Archived from the original on 2009-01-12. Retrieved 2008-01-23.

Other websitesEdit