Date of Birth
4 April 1979, Perth, Western Australia, Australi
Date of Death
22 January 2008, Manhattan, New York, USA
Heath Andrew Ledger
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).
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What followed was a stark inconsistency of roles, Heath 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. The Order (2003) was absolutely terrible, and A Knight's Tale (2001) was just light entertainment. Heath has had such a wide variety of roles that he seems unsure what to do with himself next. Despite being a very talented comedic actor, he seems to only want serious roles, which has hindered his career. He is by no means one of the greatest actors out of Australia, but in his brief career to date has suggested he could become one, if only he accepts the right role.
Heath Ledger and his sister are named after the two main romantic characters of the Emily Brontë novel, "Wuthering Heights".
Dated costar Lisa Zane while they were filming "Roar" (1997).
Concentrated on drama and sports in school. When asked to choose between the two, he picked drama. Attended a private all-boys school called Guildford Grammar.
Auditioned for the part of Max on the TV show "Roswell" (1999). However, the show was originally developed for Fox and since he had already starred in "Roar" (1997), which was unsuccessful for Fox, they did not want to hire him.
Has three sisters: Kate Ledger, and half sisters Olivia Ledger and Ashleigh Bell.
Mother is Sally and father is Kim.
Named one of People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People in 2001.
Dated Heather Graham. [October 2000 - June 2001]
Was a part of the Kalamunda Field Hockey team back in 1990 in his native country of Australia. His father, Kim Ledger, was the president of the team from 1990-1992.
Was a men's-fashion judge at the Melbourne Cup Carnival in November 2001.
Shares a birthday with Hugo Weaving.
Was originally set to star in Oliver Stones Alexander (2004) before Colin Farrell took over the role.
Was considered for the role of Kar in Bulletproof Monk (2003) but eventually turned it down. The role later went to Seann William Scott
Dated Naomi Watts (August 2002 - May 2004)
He and Naomi Watts broke up for the 2nd time, April 2004.
Born on the same day as American Pie (1999) star Natasha Lyonne.
Worked with Orlando Bloom in Ned Kelly (2003). Ledger worked with Scottish actor James Cosmo in The Four Feathers (2002). Both Bloom and Cosmo worked together in the movie Troy (2004).
Was named "the new Matt Damon" in Josie and the Pussycats (2001). They now act side by side in The Brothers Grimm (2005)
Most of his wardrobe is designed by his friend Shem.
Is of Irish and Scottish ancestry
Starred in 3 films which screened at the 2005 Venice Film Festival. They included Brokeback Mountain (2005), The Brothers Grimm (2005) and the out-of-competition Casanova (2005).
Fiancée Michelle Williams gave birth to daughter Matilda Rose Ledger on 28 October 2005, who weighed in 6 lb, 5 oz.
Met Michelle Williams on the set of Brokeback Mountain (2005).
Was selected in the State U17 squad in field hockey and was touted as one of the up and coming young stars, but chose to pack it in and try to make a career out of acting.
Jake Gyllenhaal is the godfather of his daughter Matilda.
Was mentored by, lived with, and is very good friends with Martin Henderson.
Invited to join AMPAS in 2006.
Is the first non-American actor to portray the Joker.
Set to star in Baz Luhrmanns pre-WWII drama, but backed out to play The Joker in The Dark Knight (2008).
Busy Philipps is the godmother of his daughter Matilda.
When he was cast as The Joker in The Dark Knight (2008), rumors circulated that his Brokeback Mountain (2005) cast mate Jake Gyllenhaal would be playing district attorney Harvey Dent. Instead, Jake's sister Maggie Gyllenhaal was cast as assistant D.A. Rachel Dawes.
Dropped out of Australia (2008) to do The Dark Knight (2008).
Is one of seven godparents of Elizabeth Hurley's son Damien.
Called off his engagement to Michelle Williams in September 2007.
Choosen by Empire Magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Movie Stars in the world (#79) 2007.
"I only do this because I'm having fun. The day I stop having fun, I'll just walk away. I wasn't going to have fun doing a teen movie again.... I don't want to do this for the rest of my life....I don't want to spend the rest of my youth doing this in this industry. There's so much I want to discover." - Vanity Fair (August 2000)
I prefer to date older women because they don't try to act older like younger girls but because they try to act younger.
"It's a little uncomfortable doing love scenes in armor, but, you know, when the heat's on, the heat's on." - "Access Hollywood" (1996), August 2000.
[about the paparazzi] "Most of the time you don't even know they're there. Now, that's the scary thing. It's really strange and invading, but I'm still working it all out. I try to not let it bother me. I really try and find the humour in all of it. And if I want to swim naked in my pool, I'm still going to do it. I certainly don't want to feel that I have to change everything in my life that I do to cater to them. I just won't let it happen." - National Post, May 2001
"I don't have a technique. I've never been a believer in having one set technique on how to act. There are no rules and there is no rulebook. At the end of the day, it all comes down to my instincts. That's the one thing that guides me through every decision professionally. Socially, also. That's my technique. Yeah, you read through the script 100 times. I guess I have little characteristics about myself. Sometimes, most often than not, once we start shooting I won't look at the script at all until we finished shooting. It's kind of like it's been imprinted in my head during rehearsals. You just let it go." - Reel.com, May 2001
"I'm the worst auditioner, really, really bad. I mean, you're being judged and I'm just so aware of it that it consumes me. I can't relax, I'm tied in knots, so the voice is very taut and tense. You're so aware that you're acting 'cause you're sitting across from this lady with a piece of paper who's going, ''I'm. Going. To. Shoot. You. If. You. Don't. Blah, blah, blah,'' in this emotionless voice. It's foul. I hate it." - EW.com, May 2001
People just love to bash LA. People say it's so pretentious, so arrogant, so this and that. But it's truly a wonderful place. You don't have to go to the places where that stuff goes on. You don't have to go to Beverly Hills, you don't have to go to the parties. You can live up in the Lower Canyon and live such a perfectly healthy, beautiful, fun life with all your friends. You can drive two hours one way and be at the Joshua Tree desert, two hours one way you're skiing at Big Bear. Sure, it can get full-on and that's why it's good to get out. But it's too easy just to say, "Nup, I hate it. I'm not living there anymore. - NW Magazine, March 2000
[about growing up with his mom and his sisters] I learned respect for women, and patience. You grow up with all those women around you...you learn to wait your turn. - Cosmopolitan, June 1998
I never studied acting in Australia. I never had an empty stage and black pajamas to run around and express myself.
"The challenge was to capture the stillness of him. I have kind of semi-frantic, nervous energy. Harnassing that was something I thought I'd have to work out. Shooting in the wilderness, the stillness became like this innate quality." -on his character "Ennis" in Brokeback Mountain (2005).
Brooklyn seems to me the closest thing in America to Europe. The neighbors and locals are beautiful people. It's like a village.
"She's my soul mate and we couldn't love each other any more than we do already. We're like two peas in a pod." [On girlfriend and the mother of his daughter, 'Michelle Williams']
"Matilda is adorable, and beautifully observant and wise. Michelle an I love her so much. Becoming a father exceeds all my expectations. It's the most remarkable experience I've ever had - it's marvelous." [On daughter Matilda and being a father]
My life right now is, I wouldn't say reduced to food, but my duties in life are that I wake up, cook breakfast, clean the dishes, prepare lunch, clean those dishes, go to the market, get fresh produce, cook dinner, clean those dishes and then sleep if I can. And I love it. I actually adore it.
I'm not good at future planning. I don't plan at all. I don't know what I'm doing tomorrow. I don't have a day planner and I don't have a diary. I completely live in the now, not in the past, not in the future.
[on playing The Joker in The Dark Knight] The Joker, so far, is definitely the most fun I've had with any character. He's just out of control -- no empathy, he's a sociopath, uh, a psychotic, mass-murdering clown. And, uh, I'm just thoroughly, thoroughly enjoying it. It's just exceeded any expectations I had of what the experience would be like.
[On his choice of film projects] I feel like I'm wasting time if I repeat myself. I can't say I'm proud of my work. It's the same with everything I do: the day I say 'It's good' is the day I should start doing something else.