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MAIN Arrow to Art & Culture Art &... Arrow to Hollywood Pop Culture Arrow to Actors Actors Arrow to Heath Ledger Heath Ledger

Heath LedgerWith the sudden news of his death in New York City on January 22, 2008, millions of fans mourned the Oscar-nominated ("Brokeback Mountain") star who was set to make a critically acclaimed appearance as The Joker in the upcoming Batman franchise, "The Dark Knight."

His critically acclaimed performance in that film has now garnered the actor a posthumous win as Best Supporting Actor at the 2009 Critics Choice Awards, and yet another at the Golden Globes - and at the 2009 Oscars.

Heath Ledger - Life and Career

Born Heath Andrew Ledger on April 4,1979 in Perth, Australia, the future movie star began pursuing a film career when he moved to Sydney, Australia at age 16.

Early in his career, Ledger took parts in Australian productions and TV.

His movie debut came with Blackrock in 1997, followed by another breakthrough role playing a young Olympic hopeful and the first openly gay character on Australian television in Sweat.

His American television debut arrived soon after, in the American television series Roar, as Celtic warrior Conor.


Heath Ledger in his last film appearance in
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus


This opened the door to bigger movie productions, most notably opposite Julia Stiles in 10 Things I Hate About You (1999); in the critically acclaimed Australian film, Two Hands, (1999); and alongside Mel Gibson as the rebel son in Patriot (2000).

His worldwide breakthrough performance - starring in A Knight's Tale - resulted in weak critical notice but garnered the young actor great notoriety with teen audiences in 2001.

Since then, Ledger's other notable film credits have included appearances in Monsters Ball opposite Halle Berry, (2001) and a starring role in The Four Feathers (2002).

2005 was a busy year for Ledger who appeared alongside Matt Damon in the comedy-fantasy The Brothers Grimm, and opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in Heath Ledger in Brokeback Movie Trailer Brokeback Mountain. for which he won a New York Film Critics award, a Golden Globe nomination, and an Oscar nod for his performance as a cowboy who contemplates leaving his wife and family for another man.


Heath Ledger as The Joker
Heath Ledger as The Joker
in The Dark Night.

 

Ledger also took the lead role in Casanova, which opened in December 2005, and appeared as a young Bob Dylan in the biopic I'm Not There which opened in late 2007.

He also landed the role of The Joker in a highly anticipated Batman movie sequel, slated for summer 2008 release.

Heath Ledger Is Remembered

Offscreen the actor had been romantically linked to actress Michelle Williams with whom he celebrated the birth of a daughter, Matilda in October 2005. The couple reportedly broke up in September 2007.

Then, on January 22, 2008, came the news that the 28-year-old actor had died in his downtown Soho apartment in New York City, with few details of the causes other than police reporting that it may have been drug-related. Shocked family members in Australia, who heard of the tragic news from media announcements, had revealed the actor was suffering with pneumonia on the day he died.



Autopsy results, funeral coverage

Two weeks following, autopsy results conclusively proved that Ledger had died accidentally "as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects" of six different prescription drugs, including the painkiller Oxycontin and anti-anxiety drugs Valium and Xanax.

His funeral, which took place on Saturday, February 9, 2008 in Perth, the city of his birth, was a very private family affair attended by his parents, sister Kate, and former fiancée Michelle Williams accompanied by the couple's then two-year-old daughter Matilda.

Ledger was working on what would be his final film, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, when production was halted following his death.

However, in March 2008, it was announced that Jude Law, Johnny Depp and Colin Farrell would appear as Ledger's character in scenes he had previously filmed. The story, involving a "magical mirror" that takes people into different dimensions, allowed director Terry Gilliam to switch between actors during the film, which was finally released 2009.


More about Heath Ledger around the Web:


Heath Ledger - Full biography & personal trivia, film and TV appearances, photo gallery and related forum, from the IMDb.

Heath Ledger - Wikipedia - Complete biography, early career, pictures, filmography, an overview of the actor's turbulent relationship with the press, and related resources.

 

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