Heath Ledger

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An Australian actor, Heath Ledger (1979-2008) was a phenomenal, humble talent who was taken from us far too soon.

At the outset of his career, Ledger was cast in several roles as a handsome young heartthrob. But eventually he broke out as a well-respected actor, particularly for his performances as Ennis del Mar in Brokeback Mountain and The Joker in the Batman Begins sequel The Dark Knight.

He was a method actor who really got into the heads of his characters; in an interview with Empire Magazine on his role as the Joker he revealed: "I sat around in a hotel room in London for about a month, locked myself away, formed a little diary and experimented with voices ... it was important to try to find a somewhat iconic voice and laugh. I ended up landing more in the realm of a psychopath ... someone with very little to no conscience towards his acts." He also said that director Christopher Nolan gave him absolute freedom with his interpretation of the character. Despite his methods, Ledger was never really twisted by this role; during filming of the Dark Knight, he could be seen skateboarding, and having regular conversations with cast and crew in his Joker ensemble. Needless to say, Heath was considered very friendly, and Dark Knight co-stars such as Christian Bale had nothing but nice things to say about him.

Interestingly, prior to Dark Knight, Ledger and Bale were also two of the actors who, alongside others, portrayed different public personas of Bob Dylan in the bio/musical-pic I'm Not There.

Unfortunately, Ledger developed insomnia during and after the completion of his roles in I'm Not There and The Dark Knight. He used sleeping pills to try and curb the insomnia, but when that didn't work, he combined the pills with alcohol, which sadly resulted in his death on January 22, 2008. He was only 28 at the time of his death, and completed only half of his work as the character Tony in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

To compensate for Ledger's death, Tony would also be portrayed by Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrel, playing the character one at a time as he changes appearance in his bizaare, fantastical journey; all three donated their salaries to Ledger's daughter Matilda.

On July 18, 2008, The Dark Knight was released to rave reviews and became one of the highest grossing movies in the US box office, raking in half a billion dollars. Ledger's terrifying--and at times funny--portrayal of the Joker was widely praised, and Oscar buzz was abound.

This performance would win Ledger a lot of posthumous awards, including the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor; prior to that, he was also nominated (although he didn't win) by the Academy Awards for Best Actor thanks to his performance in Brokeback. Ledger's family was presented with his Oscar for The Dark Knight, and it will be given to his daughter when she's no longer a baby.

He also dabbled in directing music videos, however his only major video, an animated one for the song "King Rat" by indie rock band Modest Mouse, was not released until a year and a half after his death.

Due the circumstances of his death and the films he had at various stages of development at the time, he is the first actor to be eligible for an Oscar in each three consecutive ceremonies after his death. (I'm Not There in 2008, The Dark Knight in 2009, and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus in 2010)

Heath Ledger has performed in the following roles:

Heath Ledger provides examples of the following tropes: