Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Heath Ledger: Life In Photos

GONE TOO SOON photo | Heath Ledger
"Heath Ledger was a courageous actor and a great soul", James Schamus, producer of Brokeback Mountain said of the star, who was found dead Tuesday in New York City. "He gave us the gift of sharing his fearless and beautiful love – of his craft, and of all who worked with him –for which all of us will be eternally grateful".

FAMILY LIFE photo | Heath Ledger
At 28, Ledger was already an Oscar-nominated actor – and a father. Daughter Matilda (with actress Michelle Williams) was born 28th October 2005. "It's what I've always wanted. She's just adorable. A beautifully observant, wise little kid".

DARK SIDE photo | Heath Ledger
More recently, Ledger had caused a stir, stepping into the macabre role of the Joker in this summer's The Dark Knight, the sequel to 2005's Batman Begins. "It's the most fun I've had with a character and probably will ever have", he said. "The movie itself is far exceeding my expectations. I think it's going to be a really fun movie to watch".

CHASING A DREAM photo | Heath Ledger
Ledger's rise on the screen started as a teen: at 16, he left his hometown of Perth, Australia, and headed to Sydney, where he appeared on the Aussie TV show Sweat and made his feature film debut in Blackrock. He then took the lead in the FOX series Roar, a warrior drama that filmed in Queensland and co-starred Keri Russell.

HEARTTHROB STATUS photo | Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles
Ledger landed his first Hollywood lead in 1999's 10 Things I Hate About You, opposite Julia Stiles. The teen comedy raked in more than $50 million, but Ledger admitted he was unhappy being labelled a heartthrob. "I was a young kid from Australia, and that was the only movie someone was willing to put me in, so what do you do?"

NEARLY GOLDEN photo | Heath Ledger
By the time he starred in 2005's Brokeback Mountain (right), Ledger had already worked opposite Billy Bob Thornton (Monster's Ball) and Mel Gibson (The Patriot). In his Oscar-nominated role of Ennis Del Mar, director Ang Lee gushed to PEOPLE that Ledger's performance was reminiscent of "a young Marlon Brando".

"I would have been crazy to turn it down", Ledger (above left, with his Brokeback co-stars Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal) told Entertainment Weekly of breaking barriers in the gay cowboy drama. "Any anxiety toward doing it was manufactured through the industry. It obviously wasn't as big a deal for us, because we did it".

On the Brokeback Mountain set, Ledger started a three-year romance with co-star Williams, producing a daughter, Matilda. Of an early encounter, he told Rolling Stone, "On the fifth take, Michelle and I are tobogganing down the hill, and Michelle... twisted her knee – she was pretty much on crutches for the rest of the shoot. And I felt I always had to look after her after that".

'SO PROUD'  photo |
Ledger (with a radiant Williams at the New York premiere of Brokeback Mountain) called meeting the actress the turning point of his career. "I'm so proud," he told Oprah Winfrey in 2006. "I just fall deeper and deeper in love with both my girls".

Ledger and Williams planted their new family in Brooklyn, where the actor easily blended with the locals. Ledger, who moved to Manhattan after their split, was an unassuming fixture in his brownstone neighbourhood, often spotted taking the baby for walks, skateboarding or stopping by local restaurants.

LOVE LOST photo |
Ledger and Williams (at the 2007 Film Independent's Spirit Awards in Santa Monica) called it quits in September. "It was rocky for a while," a source told PEOPLE. "They did what they could to make it work." Ledger later became a regular at New York City nightclubs and was even spotted with model Helena Christensen, but another source said he was "bummed" about the break-up.

'A TRAGIC LOSS' photo | Heath Ledger
"I had such great hope for him," said former co-star Mel Gibson, a fellow Australian. "He was just taking off and to lose his life at such a young age is a tragic loss".


Anonymous said...

Heath was such a wonderful person. He seemed so down to earth and just the sweetest guy you could ever know. I just feel so bad for his family and friends, as well as fans like myself. He will be missed and loved forever. RIP Heath, I love you!

Anonymous said...

Heath Ledger was my ultimate HERO.
He wasn't just a pretty face to me, but a profound actor who had so much going for him. It is a tragedy that anyone should have to die at such a young age. He will always be in my heart.

Anonymous said...

When i found out that heath had passed i was crushed! He didn't seem like the kind of guy who would be doing what he was doing, then again they usually never seem like it. He was one of my favorite actors. I got a little mad at him for what he had done to himself. I just hope he's in peace now. He will and always will be my favorite actor and i respect him so much. I cry when I think of what happen. Wish he was still here. Died at such a young age, so sad. Heath I will never get over your death, and with all my love and kindness i will say there will not be one single day i don't wish you were still here. You were great and I believe one of the best. What I wish what could've been, I wish what could be.

Anonymous said...

So damn sad, because died at such a young age. Dark Knight was such a great film too!

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