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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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And the highly experimental "A Knight's Tale" (2001) displayed Ledger's abilities as a true leading man. His exposure in these films, coupled with his growing reputation as a Hollywood playboy, led people magazine to name Ledger one of it's "50 most beautiful people" in 2001.
He worked steadily on many independent films unitl 2005 when he was once again thrust into the spotlight with his contribution to one of the most controversial films to date. Ledger received "Best Actor of 2005" awards from both the New York Film Critics Circle and the San Francisco Film Critics Circle for his performance in Brokeback Mountain. In the film, Ledger plays ranch hand Ennis Del Mar, who has a life long love affair with aspiring rodeo rider Jack Twist, played by Jake Gyllenhaal. He also received a Golden Globe nomination for best actor in a drama, and an Academy Award nomination for best actor for his performance—making him, at age 26, the ninth youngest nominee for a Best Actor Oscar.
It was on the set of Brokeback Mountain that Ledger met actress Michelle Williams. The two began a whirlwind relationship, and their daughter (Matilda Rose) was born on 28 October 2005 in New York City. Matilda Rose's godparents are Ledger's Brokeback co-star Jake Gyllenhaal and Williams' Dawson's Creek castmate Busy Philipps. Problems with paparazzi in Australia prompted Ledger to sell his residence in Bronte, New South Wales and move to the United States, where he shared an apartment with Williams in Brooklyn, from 2005 to 2007. In September 2007, Williams' father, Larry Williams, confirmed to Sydney's Daily Telegraph that Ledger and Williams had ended their relationship.
On January 22, 2008, Ledger was found unconscious in his bed by his housekeeper, Teresa Solomon, and his masseuse, Diana Wolozin, at his apartment in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan. According to police reports, Wolozin used Ledger's cell phone to call Ledger's friend, Mary-Kate Olsen, for help.
Emergency medical technicians arrived at Ledger's apartment at 3:33 p.m., but were unable to revive him. At 3:36 p.m., Ledger was pronounced dead and his body was removed from the apartment.
Soon after Ledger's death reached the news, erroneous reports began to surface, claiming that the apartment he was in belonged to Mary-Kat Olsen. Olsen did not and had never owned the apartment, however. It was later reported by People magazine that Diana Wolozin (who found Ledger unconscious) had called Olsen before calling authorities because Olsen and Ledger had been casually dating in the months before his death.
Ledger had told The New York Times in November of 2007 that he was taking Ambien, a prescription medication used for the short-term treatment of insomnia. He discussed the difficulty that he was having with portraying The Joker in Batman sequel The Dark Knight, a character he described as a "psychopathic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy."
"Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night," Ledger told the Times.
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