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Creator / Heath Ledger

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"I never took an acting class, so I've made all my mistakes on film."

Heath Andrew Ledger (4 April 1979 – 22 January 2008) was an Australian actor and music video director.

At the outset of his career, Ledger acted in several Australian TV and film productions during the 1990s. He eventually moved to America in 1998 to further his film career was cast in several roles as a handsome young heartthrob in films such as 10 Things I Hate About You and A Knight's Tale. 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 Dark Knight.

Ledger was a method actor who really liked to get into the heads of his characters, with no performance of his likely being a better showcase of this than his take on the Joker. He stated that his process of developing the character included secluding himself in a hotel room for a month, forming a diary in the Joker's likeness, and experimenting with voices "to try to find a somewhat iconic voice and laugh." He also said that director Christopher Nolan gave him absolute freedom with his interpretation of the character. Despite the lengths of his methods, Ledger was never really twisted by this role; during the 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 Christian Bale had nothing but nice things to say about him.note 

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

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 Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell, playing the character one at a time as he changes appearance during his bizarre, fantastical journey. All three of Ledger's replacements donated their salaries to Matilda Ledger, the daughter Ledger had with actress Michelle Williams.

Ledger also dabbled in directing music videos with plans of eventually becoming a film director. However, his only major video, an animated one for Modest Mouse's "King Rat", was not released until a year and a half after his death. Another video he did, for "Cause and Effect" by rapper N'fa, was also not released until after his death.

For The Dark Knight, Ledger became the second of two actors to win an Academy Award posthumouslynote , receiving the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor (which was presented to his family). Prior to that, he was also nominated for a Best Actor Oscar thanks to his performance in Brokeback Mountain. Due to the circumstances of his death and the films he had at various stages of development at the time, Ledger 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:

Tropes invoked by this actor's works: