Heath Ledger Life Story
Heath Andrew Ledger (born April 4, 1979) is an Academy Award-nominated Australian film actor. Ledger was born in Perth, Australia of Irish and Scottish descent. He lived in Western Australia until he was 16, when he left school (Guildford Grammar), a year early. He then moved to Sydney with his best friend, Trevor DiCarlo, in pursuit of a career in acting.
Ledger got his break in a TV series made in Perth, Sweat (1996), playing the part of a gay elite cyclist. Although the series failed to have much of an impact, he then starred in a US television series Roar.
Film career: In 1999, Ledger starred in the Hollywood movie 10 Things I Hate About You and also had the lead role in the acclaimed Australian movie Two Hands, directed by Gregor Jordan. Since then he has starred in The Patriot, A Knight’s Tale, Ned Kelly, The Sin Eater AkA The Order, and The Brothers Grimm.
Ledger had a successful year in 2001, with his ShoWest Award for the Male Star of Tomorrow based on his performance in The Patriot, and worldwide release of the hit anachronistic jousting romp A Knight’s Tale. In 2003, Ledger was named one of Australian GQ’s Men of the Year for acting.
In 2005, Ledger received a “Best Actor in a Drama” Golden Globe nomination for his acclaimed performance in Brokeback Mountain, in which he plays Wyoming ranch hand Ennis Del Mar, who has a love affair with aspiring rodeo rider Jack Twist, played by Jake Gyllenhaal. In the New York Times review of Brokeback Mountain, film critic Stephen Holden wrote:
“Both Mr. Ledger and Mr. Gyllenhaal make this anguished love story physically palpable. Mr. Ledger magically and mysteriously disappears beneath the skin of his lean, sinewy character. It is a great screen performance, as good as the best of Marlon Brando and Sean Penn.”
In another review in Rolling Stone magazine, film critic Peter Travers wrote: “Ledger’s magnificent performance is an acting miracle. He seems to tear it from his insides. Ledger doesn’t just know how Ennis moves, speaks and listens; he knows how he breathes. To see him inhale the scent of a shirt hanging in Jack’s closet is to take measure of the pain of love lost.”
Ledger has received “Best Actor of 2005″ awards for Brokeback Mountain from both the New York Film Critics Circle and the San Francisco Film Critics Circle. He was also nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Actor” for his performance.
Relationship with the press: Ledger has a turbulent relationship with elements of the news media, particularly paparazzi photographers. It is alleged that he spat at and assaulted a photographer in Sydney in 2004, while a relative also is alleged to have spat on a photographer in 2005. Ledger strongly denies the accusation.
On 13 January 2006, several photographers retaliated, squirting Ledger with water pistols as he walked the red carpet for the Sydney premiere of Brokeback Mountain.
Ledger has more recently been subject to critical commentary and analysis in the press following his performance on stage at the 2005 Screen Actors Guild Awards. Ledger was seen giggling and his behaviour was described as odd when presenting Brokeback Mountain as a nominee for Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. The Los Angeles Times described his behaviour as “some kind of gay spoof.” Ledger later called the Times to explain that his actions were the result of stage fright given that he was ill-prepared to present the nomination, only being aware of his role minutes beforehand. “I am so sorry and I apologise for my nervousness,” Ledger told the newspaper.
Ledger also came under fire after he was quoted in January 2006 in Australia’s Herald Sun in which he insulted the U.S. state of West Virginia. When Ledger incorrectly assumed that the state was banning “Brokeback Mountain,” he made statements that West Virginia had lynchings as recently as the 1980s. These statements have been roundly disputed by archivists and historians, who point out that the last extra-legal public hanging in West Virginia occurred in 1931.
Private life: Ledger met his former girlfriend Naomi Watts in 2002 during the filming of Ned Kelly. They started dating in August 2002. The couple ended their relationship in April 2004.
Ledger is engaged to actress Michelle Williams, whom he met on the set of Brokeback Mountain. They have a daughter, Matilda Rose, who was born on October 28, 2005. The couple’s Brokeback Mountain co-star Jake Gyllenhaal recently confirmed that he is Matilda’s godfather.
He is a supporter of the West Coast Eagles Football Club in the Australian Football League. As of February 2006, Ledger currently resides in Brooklyn, New York, Los Angeles, California and Sydney, Australia. Ledger is currently selling his Australian residence in Bronte, New South Wales for A$7.5 million.
Ledger’s death affected the marketing campaign for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008) and also both the production and marketing of Terry Gilliam’s film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, with both directors intending to celebrate and pay tribute to his work in these films.
Although Gilliam temporarily suspended production on the latter film, he expressed determination to “salvage” it, perhaps using computer-generated imagery (CGI), and dedicated it to Ledger. In February 2008, as a “memorial tribute to the man many have called one of the best actors of his generation,” Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell signed on to take over Ledger’s role, becoming multiple incarnations of his character, Tony, transformed in this “magical re-telling of the Faust story,” and the three actors have donated their fees for the film to Ledger’s and Williams’ daughter.
Speaking of editing The Dark Knight, on which Ledger had completed his work in October 2007, Nolan recalled, “It was tremendously emotional, right when he passed, having to go back in and look at him every day. … But the truth is, I feel very lucky to have something productive to do, to have a performance that he was very, very proud of, and that he had entrusted to me to finish.” All of Ledger’s scenes appear as he completed them in the filming; in editing the film, Nolan added no “digital effects” to alter Ledger’s actual performance posthumously. Nolan dedicated the film in part to Ledger’s memory, as well as to the memory of technician Conway Wickliffe, who was killed during a car accident while preparing one of the film’s stunts.
Released in July 2008, The Dark Knight broke several box office records and received both popular and critical accolades, especially with regard to Ledger’s performance as the Joker. Even film critic David Denby, who does not praise the film overall in his pre-release review in The New Yorker, evaluates Ledger’s work highly, describing his performance as both “sinister and frightening” and Ledger as “mesmerising in every scene”, concluding: “His performance is a heroic, unsettling final act: this young actor looked into the abyss.” Attempting to dispel widespread speculations that Ledger’s performance as the Joker had in any way led to his death (as Denby and others suggest), Ledger’s co-star and friend Christian Bale, who played opposite him as Batman, has stressed that, as an actor, Ledger greatly enjoyed meeting the challenges of creating that role, an experience that Ledger himself described as “the most fun I’ve ever had, or probably ever will have, playing a character.”
Ledger received numerous awards for his Joker role in The Dark Knight. On 10 November 2008, he was nominated for two People’s Choice Awards related to his work on the film, “Best Ensemble Cast” and “Best Onscreen Match-Up” (shared with Christian Bale), and Ledger won an award for “Match-Up” in the ceremony aired live on CBS in January 2009.
On 11 December 2008, it was announced that Ledger had been nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture for his performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight; he subsequently won the award at the 66th Golden Globe Awards ceremony telecast on NBC on 11 January 2009 with Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan accepting on his behalf.
Film critics, co-stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and Michael Caine and many of Ledger’s colleagues in the film community joined Bale in calling for and predicting a nomination for the 2008 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in recognition of Ledger’s achievement in The Dark Knight. Ledger’s subsequent nomination was announced on 22 January 2009, the anniversary of his death; Ledger went on to win the award, becoming the second person to win a posthumous Academy Award for acting, after fellow Australian actor Peter Finch, who won for 1976′s Network. The award was accepted by Ledger’s familyRelated Information: