Heath Ledger facts for kids

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Heath Ledger
Heath Ledger.jpg
Ledger at the 2006 Berlin International Film Festival
Heath Andrew Ledger

(1979-04-04)4 April 1979
Died 22 January 2008(2008-01-22) (aged 28)
Cause of death Prescription drug intoxication
Cardiac arrest
Occupation Actor, music video director
Years active 1993–2008
Partner(s) Michelle Williams (2004–2007)
Children 1

Heathcliff Andrew Ledger (April 4, 1979 – January 22, 2008) was an Academy Award-winning Australian actor. After appearing on television during the 1990s, Ledger began working in Hollywood movies. He starred in many movies, including The Patriot, Monster's Ball, and Brokeback Mountain. He played The Joker in The Dark Knight. Ledger died in New York City on January 22, 2008. However, the final movie he was in, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, came out in 2009.

Early life and family

Heath Ledger was born in Perth, Western Australia. Ledger's mother is descended from the Clan Campbell of Scotland. Heath (Heathcliff) and his sister Katherine were named after the two main characters in Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights. Ledger attended Guildford Grammar School, where he had his first acting experiences. He starred in a school production as Peter Pan at age 10.


Early career

At sixteen, Ledger graduated school early to become an actor with girlfriend Jenna Sorrell. With his best friend, Trevor DiCarlo, Ledger drove across Australia to Sydney. He returned to Perth for the television series Sweat (1996). In this series, he played a gay cyclist.

In 1996, Ledger was involved in the short lived Fox Broadcasting Company fantasy-drama Roar. In 1999, Ledger starred in the teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You. He also had the lead role in the Australian movie Two Hands, directed by Gregor Jordan.


From 2000 to 2005 he starred in The Patriot, Monster's Ball, A Knight's Tale, The Four Feathers, Ned Kelly, The Order, and The Brothers Grimm. In 2001, he won a ShoWest Award for the "Male Star of Tomorrow" for on his work in The Patriot and A Knight's Tale. In 2003, he was named one of Australian GQ's "Men of the Year" for acting.

Ledger received "Best Actor of 2005" awards from both the New York Film Critics Circle and the San Francisco Film Critics Circle for his acting in Brokeback Mountain. In this movie he plays Wyoming ranchhand Ennis Del Mar, who is in love with rodeorider Jack Twist, played by Jake Gyllenhaal. He also received a nomination for Golden Globe "Best Actor in a Drama" and a nomination for Academy Award for Best Actor for this acting.

Also in 2005, Ledger played a version of Giacomo Casanova in Casanova. The movie was a romantic comedy. It co-starred Sienna Miller.

In 2006, Ledger was asked to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In 2007, he was one of six actors to play different sides of singer Bob Dylan in the movie I'm Not There.

Ledger played comic book villain The Joker in The Dark Knight. This is the sequel to the 2005 movie Batman Begins. The movie was released on July 18, 2008.


Ledger started a record company with singer Ben Harper. In 2006, Ledger directed three music videos: "Cause an Effect" and "Seduction Is Evil (She's Hot)" for Australian hip-hop artist N'fa, as well as "Morning Yearning" for Ben Harper.

Public image

Press reception

Ledger had problems with paparazzi photographers. It is said that he spat at and assaulted a photographer in Sydney in 2004. A relative of his also is said to have spat on a photographer in 2005. Ledger said this was not true.

Ledger caused problems after he was quoted in January 2006 in Australia's Herald Sun as saying that West Virginia had banned Brokeback Mountain (which it had not). He also said the state had lynchings as recently as the 1980s. These statements have been said to not be true by historians, who said that the last non-legal public hanging in West Virginia happened in 1931.

Personal life

From August 2002 to April 2004, Ledger had a relationship with actress Naomi Watts. They met during the filming of Ned Kelly. Before that, he had dated actresses Lisa Zane and Heather Graham.

Ledger was engaged to actress Michelle Williams, whom he met while filming Brokeback Mountain. Their daughter, Matilda Rose, was born on October 28, 2005 in New York City.

In August 2007, Us Weekly said that Ledger and Williams ended their relationship. Neither Ledger nor Williams said the rumor was true at that time. In September 2007, Williams' father, Larry, told the Sydney Daily Telegraph that Ledger and Williams had separated.


Year Title Role Other notes
1997 Paws Oberon
Blackrock Toby
1999 10 Things I Hate About You Patrick Verona
Two Hands Jimmy AFI Award nominee (Best Actor in a Leading Role)
2000 The Patriot Gabriel Martin
2001 Monster's Ball Sonny Grotowski
A Knight's Tale Sir William Thatcher/
Sir Ulrich von Lichtenstein of Gelderland
2002 The Four Feathers Harry Faversham
2003 The Order Alex Bernier
Ned Kelly Ned Kelly AFI Award nominee (Best Actor in a Leading Role)
2005 Casanova Giacomo Casanova
Brokeback Mountain Ennis del Mar Academy Award nominee (Best Lead Actor)
Golden Globe nominee (Best Lead Actor - Drama)
BAFTA Award nominee (Best Lead Actor)
SAG nominee (Best Lead Actor, Best Ensemble Cast)
AFI Award (Best Lead Actor)
The Brothers Grimm Jacob Grimm
Lords of Dogtown Skip Engblom
2006 Candy Dan AFI Award nominee (Best Actor in a Leading Role)
IF Award nominee (Best Actor)
FCCA Award nominee (Best Actor)
2007 I'm Not There. Robbie Clark
2008 The Dark Knight The Joker Golden Globe Winner, (Best Supporting Actor)
Tree of Life incomplete
2009 The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus Tony (sharing character with Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law) Incomple performance
1992 Clowning Around
1997 Home and Away Scott Irwin
Roar Conor
1996 Sweat Snowy Bowles

Awards and nominations

  • Academy Awards
    • 2009 - Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, The Dark Knight (Won)
    • 2006 - Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Brokeback Mountain (Nominated)
  • Australian Film Institute Awards
    • 1999 - Best Actor in a Leading Role, Two Hands (Nominated)
    • 2003 - Best Actor in a Leading Role, Ned Kelly (Nominated)
    • 2006 - Best Actor in a Leading Role, Candy (Nominated)
    • 2008 - Best Actor in a Supporting Role, The Dark Knight (Won)
    • 2009 - Best Actor in a Supporting Role, The Dark Knight (Won)
    • 2006 - Best Actor in a Leading Role, Brokeback Mountain (Nominated)
  • Golden Globe Awards
    • 2009 - Best Performance by an Actor In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, The Dark Knight (Won)
    • 2006 - Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama, Brokeback Mountain (Nominated)
  • Independent Spirit Awards
    • 2008 - Robert Altman Award, I'm Not There. (Won) *shared w/ cast and crew.
    • 2006 - Best Actor, Brokeback Mountain (Nominated)
  • MTV Movie Awards
    • 2008 - Best Villain, The Dark Knight (Won)
    • 2008 - Best Fantasy Actor, The Dark Knight (Won)
    • 2006 - Best Kiss, Brokeback Mountain (Won) *shared w/ Jake Gyllenhaal
    • 2002 - Best Kiss, A Knight's Tale (Nominated) *shared w/ Shannyn Sossamon
    • 2002 - Best Musical Sequence A Knight's Tale (Nominated) *shared w/ Shannyn Sossamon
    • 2000 - Best Musical Sequence 10 Things I Hate About You (Nominated)
  • Screen Actors Guild Awards
    • 2009 - Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role, The Dark Knight (Won)
    • 2006 - Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, Brokeback Mountain (Nominated)
    • 2006 - Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, Brokeback Mountain (Nominated)

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