Thursday, January 31, 2008
Born in Perth, Western Australia, Heathcliff Andrew Ledger (1979–2008) was an Academy Award-nominated actor. After appearing in television roles in the 1990s, Ledger starred in film, including 10 Things I Hate About You, The Patriot, Monster's Ball, A Knight's Tale, and Brokeback Mountain, and completed the role of the Joker in the forthcoming Batman movie The Dark Knight shortly before his death.
In 2001, Ledger won a ShoWest Award for the Male Star of Tomorrow based on his performance in The Patriot. 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 acclaimed performance in Brokeback Mountain, in which he plays Wyoming ranch hand Ennis Del Mar, who has a love affair with aspiring rodeo rider 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 performance. At age 26, Ledger became one of the youngest performers ever nominated for the Best Actor Oscar. In 2006, he was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Ledger died thousands of miles from home, but like hundreds of other entertainers who came before him, he left his native land to carve out a career in Hollywood. In doing so, the actor, who died last week in New York City of undetermined causes, joined a long list of expatriate entertainers that includes Spain's Antonio Banderas, Canada's Mike Myers and even the man who paid tribute to Ledger at Sunday's Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Englishman Daniel Day-Lewis.