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[[caption-width-right:303:''[[Film/TheDarkKnight "You wanna know how I got to be this good-looking?"]]'']]
->''"I never took an acting class, so I've made all my mistakes on film."''

Heath Andrew Ledger (April 4, 1979 January 22, 2008) was an Australian actor.

At the outset of his career, Ledger was cast in several roles as a handsome young heartthrob. Eventually, he broke out as a well-respected actor, particularly for his performances as Ennis del Mar in ''Film/BrokebackMountain'' and ComicBook/TheJoker in the ''Film/BatmanBegins'' sequel ''Film/TheDarkKnight''.

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 Creator/ChristopherNolan 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, Ledger was considered very friendly, and ''The Dark Knight'' co-stars such as Creator/ChristianBale had nothing but nice things to say about him.

Interestingly, prior to ''The Dark Knight'', Ledger and Bale were also two of the actors who, alongside others, portrayed different public personas of Music/BobDylan in the biopic/musical ''Film/ImNotThere''.

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 to 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 ''Film/TheImaginariumOfDoctorParnassus''.

Ledger's death threw the production of ''Parnassus'' into chaos, as his participation was one of the selling points to getting financial backing for the film. In order to compensate for Ledger's death, Tony would also be portrayed by Creator/JohnnyDepp, Creator/JudeLaw, and Creator/ColinFarrell, playing the character one at a time as he changes appearance during his bizarre, fantastical journey. [[SugarWiki/HeartwarmingMoments All three of Ledger's replacements donated their salaries to Matilda Ledger]], Ledger's young daughter with actress Creator/MichelleWilliams.

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 (which was presented to Ledger's family); prior to that, he was also nominated (although he didn't win) to the Academy Award for Best Actor thanks to his performance in ''Brokeback Mountain''.

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. His hip-hop video for [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_55ZdsfNqlI "Cause and Effect"]] by rapper N'fa was also not released until after his death.

Due to 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)
!!Notable Roles:
* Connor, ''Series/{{Roar}}'' (1997)
* Patrick Verona, ''Film/TenThingsIHateAboutYou'' (1999)
* Jimmy, ''Film/TwoHands'' (1999)
* Gabriel Martin, ''Film/ThePatriot'' (2000)
* Sonny Grotowski, ''Film/MonstersBall'' (2001)
* Sir William Thatcher, ''Film/AKnightsTale'' (2001)
* Harry Faversham, ''Film/TheFourFeathers'' (2002)
* UsefulNotes/NedKelly, ''Film/NedKelly'' (2003)
* Skip Engblom, ''Film/LordsOfDogtown'' (2003)
* Father Alex, ''Film/TheOrder'' (2003)
* Giacomo Casanova, ''Film/{{Casanova}}'' (2005)
* Jacob Grimm, ''Film/TheBrothersGrimm'' (2005)
* Ennis del Mar, ''Film/BrokebackMountain'' (2005)
* Dan, ''Film/{{Candy}}'' (2006)
* Robbie Clark, ''Film/ImNotThere'' (2007)
* ComicBook/TheJoker, ''Film/TheDarkKnight'' (2008)
* Tony, ''Film/TheImaginariumOfDoctorParnassus'' (2009)
!!Tropes invoked by this actor's works:
* AuthorExistenceFailure: A unique subversion with ''Film/TheImaginariumOfDoctorParnassus''. Ledger died suddenly while filming it. Since the film is set in a multiverse and Ledger had filmed all of his scenes in the real world before his death, Creator/JohnnyDepp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law portray him in alternate universes (they gave their paychecks to Ledger's daughter).
* ChuckCunninghamSyndrome: Out of respect for Ledger, Creator/ChristopherNolan decided against having any glimpses or mentions of The Joker in ''Film/TheDarkKnightRises'', even though the film makes reference to almost every other aspect of the two movies that came before.
* FakeBrit: He played a British man in ''Film/AKnightsTale''.
* PlayingAgainstType: Ledger was known for his roles as a heartthrob, but it is his iconic portrayal of psychotic criminal mastermind [[Film/TheDarkKnight The Joker]] that he is almost universally known for today. [[ItWillNeverCatchOn A lot of people thought he couldn't pull it off,]] when it has become arguably one of the defining performances of the decade, [[FollowTheLeader with a veritable]] FountainOfExpies [[FollowTheLeader based on his take on the character.]]
* RealLife/MeanCharacterNiceActor: Who knew a sinister merrymaker such as ComicBook/TheJoker could be portrayed so devilishly in ''Film/TheDarkKnight'' by such a nice guy?
* MrFanservice: At the outset of his career, Ledger was cast in several roles as a handsome young heartthrob. Eventually he broke out as a well-respected actor around the time of ''Brokeback Mountain'', and solidified it by the time of ''The Dark Knight''.
* RomanceOnTheSet: Met Creator/MichelleWilliams while filming ''Film/BrokebackMountain''.
* StarMakingRole: Despite having had an Oscar nomination and a respectable career beforehand, ''The Dark Knight'' is remembered as the movie that cemented him as a legend and made him a household name.
* WhatCouldHaveBeen: Was offered the role of Spider-Man in Sam Raimi's ''Film/SpiderManTrilogy''. One can only imagine what it would have been like had he said yes.
** He was also ready to begin transitioning into a career as a director, with both an adaptation of the novel ''The Queen's Gambit'' and a documentary on the life on Music/NickDrake both in the works before his death.