28 (passed away Jan. 22nd, 2008)
Apr. 4th, 1979
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Heath Ledger's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
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.
- Was a great admirer of 'Johnny Depp' (qv)'s work. Like Depp, Ledger worked hard to avoid being typecast as a teen heartthrob early on, in the hopes of expanding his career options. Both actors enjoyed taking risky, physically unappealing roles that surprised audiences. Depp was one of the three actors who filled in for Ledger's last unfinished role after his death, in _The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)_ (qv).
- Was good friends with 'Ben Harper (II)' (qv).
- 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.
- Was painfully shy.
- Had three sisters: Catherine (Kate) Ledger, married to Nathan Buckey, and half sisters Olivia Ledger (b. 1997) and Ashleigh Bell (b. 1989).
- Was good friends with 'Joaquin Phoenix' (qv).
- Was very good friends with 'Russell Crowe' (qv).
- Was the first non-American actor to portray the Joker.