[[caption-width-right:303:[[Film/TheDarkKnight You wanna know how I got to be this good-looking?]]]]

An Australian actor, Heath Andrew Ledger (April 4, 1979 -- January 22, 2008) was a phenomenal, humble talent who died far too soon.

At the outset of his career, Ledger was cast in several roles as a handsome young heartthrob. But eventually he [[TookALevelInBadass broke out as a well-respected actor]], particularly for his performances as Ennis del Mar in ''BrokebackMountain'' and SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker in the ''Film/BatmanBegins'' [[Film/TheDarkKnightSaga 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 ''Film/TheDarkKnight'', 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 ''Film/TheDarkKnight'' co-stars such as Creator/ChristianBale had nothing but nice things to say about him.

Interestingly, prior to ''Film/TheDarkKnight'', Ledger and Bale were also two of the actors who, alongside others, portrayed different public personas of Music/BobDylan in the bio/musical-pic ''Film/ImNotThere''.

Unfortunately, Ledger developed insomnia during and after the completion of his roles in ''I'm Not There'' and ''Film/TheDarkKnight''. 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 Colin Farrell, playing the character one at a time as he changes appearance during his bizarre, fantastical journey. [[CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming All three of Ledger's replacements donated their salaries to Matilda Ledger, Heath's young daughter with actress]] Creator/MichelleWilliams.

On July 18, 2008, ''Film/TheDarkKnight'' 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 ''Film/TheDarkKnight'', 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. 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, ''Film/TheDarkKnight'' in 2009, and ''Film/TheImaginariumOfDoctorParnassus'' 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)
* UsefulNotes/GiacomoCasanova, ''Film/{{Casanova}}'' (2005)
* Jacob Grimm, ''Film/TheBrothersGrimm'' (2005)
* Ennis del Mar, ''Film/BrokebackMountain'' (2005)
* Dan, ''Film/{{Candy}}'' (2006)
* Robbie Clark, ''Film/ImNotThere'' (2007)
* SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker, ''Film/TheDarkKnight'' (2008)
* Tony, ''Film/TheImaginariumOfDoctorParnassus'' (2009)
!!Tropes invoked by this actor:
* UsefulNotes/AcademyAward: For his role as SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker in ''Film/TheDarkKnight''. He is the only actor to ever win for a performance in a comic book movie.
** And only the second to win posthumously (after Peter Finch for ''Network'').
* BadassBaritone
* CelebrityIsOverrated: Believed this and even said he didn't plan on acting for much longer despite his success.
* CelebrityResemblance: To Joseph Gordon Levitt. Which is HilariousInHindsight when Joseph joined the cast of ''Film/TheDarkKnightRises'' as the Nolanverse version of [[spoiler: Robin.]]
* 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.
* DeadArtistsAreBetter: At least some of the applause lavished on ''Film/TheDarkKnight'' is due to this trope, regardless of how good or bad his portrayal of Joker actually was.
** And of course, many have speculated he wouldn't have won anything, or possibly even been nominated if he was alive.
* DotingParent: During the filming of ''Film/TheDarkKnight'', people reported that he went around talking about his daughter Matilda whenever he got the chance. When she turns 18, Matilda will inherit her late father's Oscar statuette.
* EvenTheGuysWantHim: ''10 Things'' director Gil Junger, after Ledger finished the reading and left, declared that if he had to have sex with a man, that Ledger would be that man.
* LandDownUnder
* LargeHam
* LikesOlderWomen: Was at different points linked with LisaZane (18 years his senior), Creator/HeatherGraham (9 years his senior), and Creator/NaomiWatts (11 years his senior).
* MrFanservice
* ShrinkingViolet: Was known to be a very big one in real life.