Well, I was going to write about this year's Oscar nominations, but it seems as if this January is set to break the record as far as celebrity deaths go. If you have not heard, actor Heath Ledger was found dead today in bed in a New York apartment, a bottle of sleeping pills at his side. At the moment it is unclear if his death was a suicide or not.
Ledger was born Heathcliff Ledger (named for the main character in Wuthering Heights) April 4, 1979 in Perth, Australia. At age 10 he received his first taste of acting, appearing in a production of Peter Pan. He attended Marys Mount Primary School and Guildford Grammar School, both in Perth. Ledger left school at the age of 16 to pursue acting. His first appearance on screen was in the Australian feature Clowning Around in 1992. He also appeared in the Australian TV series Ship to Shore and the popular Australian show Home and Away. Ledger eventually moved to the United States, where his first work was in the short lived TV series Roar in 1997. Cast in the Australian crime thriller Two Hands, he received his first big break in American in the teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You in 1999.
Ledger would appear in the Mel Gibson film The Patriiot before receiving another starring role in the cult A Knight's Tale in 2001. Ledger would appear in such films as Monster's Ball, The Four Feathers, Ned Kelly, The Brothers Grimm and Casanova. He received an Oscar nomination for his role in Brokeback Mountain. More recently, he played Robbie Clark in the Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There and The Joker in the Batman movie The Dark Knight.
I would assume that many people are like me, shocked by the death of an actor so young. I must admit that I am also saddened by the passing of Heath Ledger. Indeed, he starred in three of my favourite guilty pleasures--A Knight's Tale, The Brothers Grimm, and Casanova. And I do honestly believe that he was one of the most talented young actors around. He was certainly versatile. He played everything from bushranger Ned Kelly to Giacomo Casanova to Jakob Grimm, and did all of them very well. He also had an integrity about him that I suspect most young actors don't have. After the success of 10 Things I Hate About You, Ledger was offered other roles in other teen movies, often for a good deal of money. Ledger turned them all down, preferring to seek out more interesting and more difficult roles instead. Talented, versatile, and possessing Thespian integrity, it is sad to know that Heath Ledger is gone.