28 (passed away Jan. 22nd, 2008)
Apr. 4th, 1979
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Heath Ledger's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles2009 - The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
2008 - The Dark Knight
2006 - Candy
2005 - Brokeback Mountain
2005 - Casanova
2005 - Lords of Dogtown
2005 - The Brothers Grimm
2003 - Ned Kelly
2003 - The Order
2002 - The Four Feathers
2001 - A Knight's Tale
2001 - Monster's Ball
2000 - The Patriot
1999 - 10 Things I Hate About You
1999 - Two Hands
When a young, hunky 20 year old heart-throb Heath Ledger first came to the attention of the public in 1999, it was all too easy to tag him as a "pretty boy" and an actor of not much depth. He has spent the past five years trying desperately to sway this image away, but this has indeed been a double-edged sword. But that comes much later in his story.
Ledger was (born April 4, 1979), in Perth, Western Australia. As the story goes, in junior high it was compulsory to do one of two electives, either cooking or drama, and as Ledger could honestly not see himself in a cooking class, he tried his hand at drama. Ledger was talented, there was no denying that. However, the rest of the class did not acknowledge his talent, possibly out of jealousy.
When he was 17, he and a friend, decided to pack up, leave school, take a car and rough it to Sydney. Ledger believed Sydney to be the place where dreams are made, or at least, where actors can possibly get their big break. However, upon arriving in Sydney with a purported 69 cents to his name, Ledger tried everything to get a break.
His first real acting job came in a low budget movie called Blackrock (1997), a largely unimpressive clich; a teen angst film about one boy's struggle when he learns his best mate raped a girl. He did not have a large part in this movie. In fact, it was a very small one. The only thing of notice in his role is you get to see him get his lights punched out. After that small role, Heath auditioned for a role in a TV show called Sweat (1996) about a group of young Olympic hopefuls.
He got offered one of two roles, one as a swimmer, another as a gay cyclist. Ledger accepted the latter because he felt to really stand out as an actor one had to accept unique roles that stood out from the bunch. It got him small notice, but unfortunately the show was quickly axed, which led him to look for other roles.
Ledger was in Home and Away (1988) for a very short period, in which he played a surfer who falls in love with one of the girls of Summer Bay. Then came his very brief role in Paws (1997). Paws was a film which existed solely to cash in on guitar prodigy Nathan Cavaleri's brief moment of fame, where he was the hottest thing in Australia. Ledger played a student in the film, involved in a stage production of a Shakespeare play, in which he played "Oberon". A very brief role, this did nothing other than give him a small paycheck, but nothing to advance his career.
He went to America trying to audition for film roles, showcasing his brief role in Roar (1997) opposite then unknown 'Vera Farmiga'. He could not find any American roles but then Australian director 'Gregor Jordan' auditioned him for the lead in Two Hands (1999), which he got. An in your face Aussie crime thriller, Two Hands (1999) was outstanding and helped him secure a role in 10 Things I Hate About You (1999).
After that, it seemed Heath was being typecast as a teen hunk, which he did not like, so he accepted a role in a very serious war drama The Patriot (2000). What followed was a stark inconsistency of roles, Ledger accepting virtually every single character role, anything to avoid being typecast. Some met with praise, like his short role in Monster's Ball (2001), but his version of Ned Kelly (2003) was an absolute flop, which led distributors hesitant to even release it outside Australia.
Ledger finally had deserved success with his role in Brokeback Mountain (2005), for which he was nominated for an Oscar and a BAFTA.
Ledger was found dead on January 22, 2008 in his apartment in the Manhattan neighborhood of SoHo, with a bottle of prescription sleeping pills nearby. It was concluded weeks later that he died of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs that included painkillers, sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medication.
- Played the character of Scott Irwin in the long-running Australian soap opera _"Home and Away" (1988)_ (qv) for 10 episodes in 1997. Scott was a local bad boy who took advantage of Sally Fletcher. It is said that the producers wanted to extend his stay with the show but Heath opted not to.
- When he was cast as The Joker in _The Dark Knight (2008)_ (qv), rumors circulated that his _Brokeback Mountain (2005)_ (qv) cast mate 'Jake Gyllenhaal' (qv) would be playing district attorney Harvey Dent. Instead, Jake's sister 'Maggie Gyllenhaal' (qv) was cast as assistant D.A. Rachel Dawes.
- Mother was Sally Ramshaw (daughter of John and Jackie Ramshaw) and father was Kim Ledger (son of Colin and Es Ledger). Stepfather was Roger Bell and stepmother was Emma Brown. His great-grandfather was Sir Frank Ledger, son of Edson Leger.
- Was very good friends with 'Russell Crowe' (qv).
- 'Jake Gyllenhaal' (qv) is the godfather of his daughter 'Matilda Ledger' (qv).
- Dated 'Naomi Watts' (qv) from August 2002 to May 2004.
- Starred in 3 films which screened at the 2005 Venice Film Festival. They included _Brokeback Mountain (2005)_ (qv), _The Brothers Grimm (2005)_ (qv) and the out-of-competition _Casanova (2005)_ (qv).
- In both his first and final complete roles, he portrayed a clown.