Date of Birth: 4 April 1979, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Date of Death: 22 January 2008, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA (accidental overdose of prescription drugs)
Birth Name: Heath Andrew Ledger
Height: 6′ 1″ (1.85 m)
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. Heath Ledger was born on the fourth of April 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 Heath could honestly not see himself in a cooking class, he tried his hand at drama. Heath 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. Heath 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, Heath tried everything to get a break. His first real acting job came in a low budget movie called Blackrock (1997), a largely unimpressive cliché; 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. Heath 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. He 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. Heath 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. Then came Two Hands (1999). 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. Heath 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.
IMDb Mini Biography By: James Briggs.
FILM critics are calling for the late Heath Ledger to receive an Oscar for his ‘unforgettable’ portrayal of The Joker in new Batman film, The Dark Knight.
The first reviews of the new film in Britain’s The Sun newspaper and Rolling Stone magazine praise Ledger’s performance, calling it the role of his career.
Rolling Stone reviewer Peter Travers said Ledger “is mad-crazy-blazing brilliant as the Joker”.
“If there’s a movement to get him the first posthumous Oscar since Peter Finch won for 1976’s Network, sign me up.”
“Miles from Jack Nicholson’s broadly funny take on the role in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman, Ledger takes the role to the shadows, where even what’s comic is hardly a relief.”
The Sun said, “Heath steals the movie”.
“This film is about one man, and that’s Heath Ledger.”
“His electrifying performance as The Joker serves up the most menacing, villainous appearance on screen since Hannibal Lecter.”
“Ledger has upped the ante for much loved and revered Hollywood villains, and whether or not he wins an Academy Award, his performance will be forever remembered in celluloid history.”
The Sun went on to say there were eerie moments in the film, “like when The Joker talks about death, particularly the image of this clown faced actor wielding a gun and pointing it at himself”.
This was the last film Ledger completed before his death in January. He was part-way through filming Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus when he died.