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Heath Ledger was an Academy Award-winning, Australian actor best known for his roles in Brokeback Mountain and The Dark Knight. He died of an accidental prescription drug overdose in 2008.
Heath Ledger - Early Life (2:57)
In one of his final roles, Heath Ledger wowed audiences with his Academy Award winning performance as the Joker in "The Dark Knight."
Heath Ledger's first big break was in the teen comedy "Ten Things I Hate About You."
After achieving fame with roles in "A Knight's Tale" and "Ten Things I Hate About You," Ledger took a starring role in "Lords of Dogtown."
Heath Ledger was born on April 4th, 1979 in Perth, Australia. It was here that his interest in acting would begin.
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Heath Ledger was born on April 4, 1979 in Perth, Australia. His breakout role was in the film 10 Things I Hate About You with Julia Stiles. Ledger received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for his role in Brokeback Mountain. In 2008, after completing filming on Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight,
Ledger died as the result of an accidental prescription drug overdose. He received a posthumous Best Actor Academy Award for his performance as "The Joker." Ledger had a daughter with actress Michelle Williams.
Heath Ledger was born on April 4, 1979, to mother Sally Ledger Bell, a french teacher, and father Kim Ledger, a racecar driver and mining specialist. He and his sister, Katherine, were reportedly named after two main characters in Emily Bonte's Wuthering Heights. He also had two half sisters: Ashleigh Bell and Olivia Ledger, both of whom were born into his parents' second marriage. But Ledger's closest family relationship was with Katharine, whom he later credited for spurring his acting career.
Early in life, Ledger found a passion for playing chess. At the age of 10, he won Western Australia's Junior Chess Championship. It was around this time that he found an interest in becoming a stage performer, as he performed the lead role in Guildford Grammar School's production of Peter Pan. Unfortunately, while Ledger was enjoying this busy life of a 10 year old his parents found themselves growing apart. That same year, his parents would separate and ultimately get divorced when Heath was 11. He found emotional release in acting, choreography and dance and continued seeking out roles in his grammar school. He also tried his hand on the big screen as an extra in the movie Clowning Around, and later appeared in the TV series Ship To Shore.
At age 16, Ledger completed his early graduation exams, and he traveled cross-country to Sydney to pursue an acting career with his long time friend Trevor DiCarlo. He had worked various, small roles in television, and his feature film debut came in 1997 in the emotional drama "Blackrock." This led to a starring role in pilot series "Roar;" a medival fantasy costarring Keri Russell and backed by Financiers in the United States. The series was nominated for several awards and exposed Ledger to American audiences and Fox executives. On the urging of then-girlfriend Liza Zane (who also appeared in the series,) Heath sought out an American agent and followed Zane back to Los Angeles at the age of 19.
In 1999, he was fully exposed to an international audience with his breakout role opposite Julia Stiles in "10 Things I Hate About "The Taming of the Shrew." The film was a cult success among younger audiences. Despite his young age and relative inexperience, he was soon beating out the Hollywood elite for major roles in blockbuster films. Mel Gibson cast him as his son Gabriel Martin in "The Patriot" (2000.) His talent was tested in the lower budget "Monster's Ball"(2000) opposite Billy Bob Thorton.
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