Movie star Heath Ledger was found dead in his SoHo apartment on the afternoon of January 22, 2008. He was only 28 years old. Early word is labeling his death as possibly drug related and possibly a suicide. Whatever the case may be, he left this world too early; no one should die in this way. Not to mention he leaves behind a young daughter, Mathilda, with his ex-fiancée Michelle Williams, with whom he amicably split in late 2006.
The next hours and days will be filled with speculation regarding the cause of death and the reasons for his death, but through it all we must not forget that we will never know his situation and will likely never understand exactly what happened to him. Beyond all of the speculation, Heath Ledger was quietly growing as an actor who was trending upwards following his Oscar nomination for his role in Brokeback Mountain.
Ledger began acting at a young age, first appearing in 1992's Clowning Around in his native Australia. It wasn't until 1997 that he began catching the eye of American audiences when he starred in the short-lived series Roar. From there he went on to the teen-themed comedy 10 Things I Hate About You in 1999 and seemed poised to become the next heartthrob actor.
In 2000 his career took another big step as he co-starred in the Mel Gibson film set during the Revolutionary War, The Patriot. Next step was the irreverent medieval comedy A Knight's Tale in 2001. Each film saw him take another step along the path to stardom.
The next few years saw him take roles in lower profile films that garnered more critical acclaim, including Monster's Ball and Ned Kelly. However, his next step brought him back to a wider audience, but was a pretty bad film. Does anyone remember The Order? The fewer who do, the better.
Ledger was absent from the big screen in 2004, only to make a big return in 2005, appearing in a number of films. That year saw him play a fantastic supporting role in Lords of Dogtown, a role that I feel many do not recognize him for. Next up is the interesting, if flawed, Terry Gilliam film The Brothers Grimm, co-starring with Matt Damon. Heath also took on the title role in Casanova, a film that received mixed critical notice.
All of that led up to his fantastic performance in Brokeback Mountain, which garnered him his Oscar nod and seemed to point towards bigger things for the young actor.