Heath Ledger

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Heath Ledger

Heath Ledger at Berlin Film Festival in 2006; photo credit: Howie Berlin
Born Heathcliff Andrew Ledger
April 4, 1979(1979-04-04)
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Died January 22, 2008(2008-01-22) (aged 28)
New York City, New York, United States
Residence New York City
Nationality Australian
Ethnicity White
Television Sweat
Home and Away
Roar
Partner Michelle Williams (2005-07)
Children Matilda Ledger
Parents Kim Ledger
Sally (née Ramshaw)
Awards See Awards and nominations

Heathcliff Andrew Ledger (April 4, 1979 – January 22, 2008) was an Academy Award-winning Australian actor. After appearing on television during the 1990s, Ledger began working in Hollywood movies. He starred in many movies, including The Patriot, Monster's Ball, and Brokeback Mountain. He played The Joker in The Dark Knight. Ledger died in New York City on January 22, 2008.[1] However, the final movie he was in, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, came out in 2009.[2]

Early life and family[change | edit source]

Heath Ledger was born in Perth, Western Australia. Ledger's mother is descended from the Clan Campbell of Scotland. Heath (Heathcliff) and his sister Katherine were named after the two main characters in Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights. Ledger attended Guildford Grammar School, where he had his first acting experiences. He starred in a school production as Peter Pan at age 10.[3]

Career[change | edit source]

Early career[change | edit source]

At sixteen, Ledger graduated school early to become an actor[4] with girlfriend Jenna Sorrell. With his best friend, Trevor DiCarlo, Ledger drove across Australia to Sydney. He returned to Perth for the television series Sweat (1996). In this series, he played a gay cyclist.[3]

In 1996, Ledger was involved in the short lived Fox Broadcasting Company fantasy-drama Roar. In 1999, Ledger starred in the teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You. He also had the lead role in the Australian movie Two Hands, directed by Gregor Jordan.[3]

2000–2008[change | edit source]

From 2000 to 2005 he starred in 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 ShoWest Award for the "Male Star of Tomorrow" for on his work 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 received "Best Actor of 2005" awards 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 Wyoming ranchhand Ennis Del Mar, who is in love with rodeorider Jack Twist, played by Jake Gyllenhaal. He also received a nomination for Golden Globe "Best Actor in a Drama" and a nomination for Academy Award for Best Actor for this acting.

Also in 2005, Ledger played a version of Giacomo Casanova in Casanova. The movie was a romantic comedy. It co-starred 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 play different sides of singer Bob Dylan in the movie I'm Not There.

Ledger played comic book villain The Joker in The Dark Knight. This is the sequel to the 2005 movie Batman Begins. The movie was released on July 18, 2008.[6]

Music[change | edit source]

Ledger started a record company with singer Ben Harper. In 2006, Ledger directed three music videos: "Cause an Effect" and "Seduction Is Evil (She's Hot)" for Australian hip-hop artist N'fa, as well as "Morning Yearning" for Ben Harper.

Public image[change | edit source]

Press reception[change | edit source]

Ledger had problems with paparazzi photographers. It is said that he spat at and assaulted a photographer in Sydney in 2004. A relative of his also is said to have spat on a photographer in 2005. Ledger said this was not true.[7]

Ledger caused problems after he was quoted in January 2006 in Australia's Herald Sun as saying that West Virginia had banned Brokeback Mountain (which 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 non-legal public hanging in West Virginia happened in 1931.[8]

Personal life[change | edit source]

From August 2002 to April 2004, Ledger had a relationship with actress Naomi Watts. They met during the filming of Ned Kelly.[9] Before that, he had dated actresses Lisa Zane and Heather Graham.

Ledger was engaged to actress Michelle Williams, whom he met while filming Brokeback Mountain.[10][11] Their daughter, Matilda Rose, was born on October 28, 2005 in New York City.

In August 2007, Us Weekly said that Ledger and Williams ended their relationship. Neither Ledger nor Williams said the rumor was true at that time. In September 2007, Williams' father, Larry, told the Sydney Daily Telegraph that Ledger and Williams had separated.[12]

Death[change | edit source]

Ledger was found dead in his apartment [13][14] 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.[15] Police said that there were "no obvious signs" of suicide. They also did not think his death was caused by someone else.[16]

On January 23, 2008, Ledger's parents and sister appeared outside Ledger's mother's house in Applecross, a Perth suburb, and read a short statement to the media:

"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."[17]

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."[18]

Filmography[change | edit source]

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)
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 nominations[change | edit source]

References[change | edit source]

  1. "Actor Heath Ledger is found dead". Agence France-Presse. 2008-01-22. http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5hSnffZ3qPhw5MxwRsbroU0BclsXA. Retrieved 2008-01-23.
  2. "Actor Heath Ledger continuing to act.". IMDb.com. 2008-10-20. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005132/. Retrieved 2008-10-20.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "HEATH LEDGER BIOGRAPHY". Tiscali film & tv. http://www.tiscali.co.uk/entertainment/film/biographies/heath_ledger_biog.html. Retrieved 2008-01-23.
  4. "Transcript. Rolling Stone interview". Rolling Stone. March 2006. http://heathheathens.net/lonesomecowboy-mar06.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-23.
  5. "Academy Invites 120 to Membership". Press Release. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. July 5, 2006. http://www.oscars.org/press/pressreleases/2006/06.07.01a.html. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
  6. "Heath Ledger? It's TRUE". NEWS ARCHIVES 47. BATMAN ON FILM. July 21, 2006. http://www.batman-on-film.com/batmovienewsarchives47.html. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
  7. Snead, Elizabeth (2006-02-03). "Heath explains his SAG giggles". Styles & Scenes. Los Angeles Times. http://stylescenes.latimes.com/fashion/2006/02/heath_explains_.html. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
  8. "When'd we stop stringing 'em up in West Virginia?". 2006-01-16. http://www.thegazz.com/blogs/gazznotes/2006/01/whend-we-stop-stringing-em-up-in-west.html. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
  9. Gary Susman (2003-10-01). "Naomi Watts and Heath Ledger split". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,491620,00.html. Retrieved 2008-01-23.
  10. Kiki King, Eva Simpson & Caroline Hedley (2006-03-03). "THE HEATH IS ON". The Daily Mirror. http://www.mirror.co.uk/archive/2006/03/08/the-heath-is-on-89520-16786391/. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
  11. Eva Simpson & Caroline Hedley (2007-01-24). "MICHELLE MARRIES HEATH LEDGER". The Daily Mirror. http://www.mirror.co.uk/archive/2007/01/24/michelle-marries-heath-ledger-89520-18521524/. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
  12. "Williams father confirms Ledger split". Hollywood.com. 2007-09-04. Archived from the original on 2012-05-26. http://archive.is/60VR. Retrieved 2008-01-23.
  13. Sewell Chan (2008-01-22). "The death of Heath Ledger". New York Times. http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/22/actor-heath-ledger-is-found-dead/. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  14. Tom Hays (2008-01-22). "Heath Ledger Found Dead in NYC at Age 28". Associated Press. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/22/AR2008012202944.html. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  15. "Heath Ledger Found Dead in NYC Apartment". MSNBC. 2008-01-22. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22788914/?GT1=10755. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  16. James Barron (2008-01-23). "Heath Ledger, Actor, Is Found Dead at 28". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/23/movies/23ledger.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin. Retrieved 2008-01-23.
  17. "Heath Ledger loved life, family tell". Daily Telegraph (Australia). 2008-01-23. http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,23096240-5001021,00.html. Retrieved 2008-01-23.
  18. "Ledger's death a tragic accident: family". ninemsn. 2008-01-23. http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=73558. Retrieved 2008-01-23.

Other websites[change | edit source]