Although the short-lived series Roar
introduced this hunky actor to American audiences (as well as his ex-girlfriend, costar Lisa Zane), this Aussie player was already well-known in his homeland. His winning turn as a witty rebel with a full head of sexy locks in 1999 romantic comedy 10 Things I Hate About You
made him a teen heartthrob, and Hollywood earmarked him as the next big thing. Yet after a couple of blockbusters---the Revolutionary War drama The Patriot
and the medieval action-fest A Knight's Tale
---his star receded in a string of pricey, high-profile flops, including The Four Feathers
, The Order
and Ned Kelly
(which introduced him to ex-girlfriend Naomi Watts). By the mid-2000s, Ledger's career was on the rocks, although his on-again, off-again relationship with Watts kept him in the tabloids. But in 2005, he seemed to be getting back on track, both personally and professionally: Not only did he win rave reviews as well as Golden Globe and Oscar nods for his compelling performance as a gay cowboy in the critically and commercially successful Brokeback Mountain
, he also fathered a baby girl with his costar-cum-fiancée, Michelle Williams. Although that relationship ended in 2007, fans assumed he was riding high and looking forward to the 2008 release of The Dark Knight
, in which he played The Joker opposite Christian Bale's Batman. Ledger's promising career was cut short, though, when in January 2008, the 28-year-old was found dead in his Manhattan bedroom of what was ruled an accidental drug overdose. However, Ledger did appear on the big screen once more the following year. At the time of his death, he had been filming director Terry Gilliam's fantasy The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
, and with some tweaks to the story, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law were able to step into Ledger's role, enabling the film to be completed.Heath Ledger Fast Facts:
- He and sister Kate were named after the central characters in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff and Catherine.
- Had "Kaos" tattooed on his wrist, which combined the initials of his sisters and mother (Kate, Ashleigh, Olivia and Sally).
- Listed as one of People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People in 2001.
- Replaced his Four Feathers (2002) costar Wes Bentley in the role of Sonny in Monster's Ball (2001).
- Played a gay cyclist in the Australian TV series Sweat nine years before his acclaimed portrayal of conflicted cowboy Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain (2005).
- Only the second person—after Network star Peter Finch—to win a posthumous acting Oscar, for his performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight (2008).
- Heath Ledger Relationships:
- Roger Bell - Stepfather
- Sally Bell - Mother
- Heather Graham - Ex-significant Other
- Ashleigh Bell - Half Sister
- Michelle Williams - Ex-fiancée
- Naomi Watts - Ex-significant Other
- Ines Ledger - Stepmother
- Catherine Ledger - Sister
- Kim Ledger - Father
- Matilda Rose Ledger - Daughter
- Olivia Ledger - Half Sister
- Heath Ledger Awards:
- 2008 Oscar: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role - Winner
- 2005 BAFTA Film Awards: Best Actor in a Leading Role - Nominee
- 2006 Australian Film Institute Awards: International Award for Best Actor - Winner
- 2008 BAFTA Film Awards: Best Supporting Actor - Winner
- 2005 Screen Actors Guild Awards: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role - Nominee
- 2008 Screen Actors Guild Awards: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role - Winner
- 2008 Australian Film Institute Awards: International Award for Best Actor - Winner
- 2005 Oscar: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role - Nominee
- 2005 Screen Actors Guild Awards: Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture - Nominee
- 2006 Australian Film Institute Awards: Readers' Choice Award - Winner
- 2003 Australian Film Institute Awards: Best Lead Actor - Nominee
- 2006 Australian Film Institute Awards: Best Lead Actor - Nominee
- 1999 Australian Film Institute Awards: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role - Nominee
- 2009 Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture - Winner
- 2006 Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama - Nominee
- 2009 People's Choice Awards: Favorite On Screen Match Up - Winner