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.
- 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).
- 2005, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Nominee
- 2009, People's Choice Awards — Favorite On Screen Match Up: Winner
- 2008, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Winner
- 2009, BAFTA Film Awards — Best Supporting Actor: Winner
- 2008, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role: Winner
- 2006, BAFTA Film Awards — Best Actor in a Leading Role: Nominee
- 2005, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role: Nominee
- 2005, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: Nominee
- 2008, Australian Film Institute Awards — International Award for Best Actor: 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
- 2006, Australian Film Institute Awards — Readers' Choice Award: Winner
- 2006, Australian Film Institute Awards — International Award for Best Actor: Winner
- 2009, Critics' Choice Awards — Best Acting Ensemble: Nominee
- 2006, Independent Spirit Awards — Best Male Lead: Nominee
- 2006, Critics' Choice Awards — Best Actor: Nominee
- 2008, Independent Spirit Awards — Robert Altman Award: Winner
- 2009, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture: Winner
- 2009, Critics' Choice Awards — Best Supporting Actor: Winner
- 2006, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama: Nominee
- Naomi Watts — Ex-significant Other
- Kim Ledger — Father
- Roger Bell — Stepfather
- Sally Bell — Mother
- Ashleigh Bell — Half Sister
- Michelle Williams — Ex-fiancée
- Matilda Rose Ledger — Daughter
- Olivia Ledger — Half Sister
- Kate Ledger — Sister
- Heather Graham — Ex-significant Other
- Ines Ledger — Stepmother
- Birth Name: Heath Andrew Ledger
- Birth Place: Perth, Western Australia, Australia
- Died: January 22, 2008
- Profession: Actor