In his brief life and career, Australian actor Heath Ledger left a profound mark on Cinema. Having been born in Perth, which he himself said was “the most isolated in the world”, he was the son of a race car driver and a French and literature teacher (his name is Heath in honor of the tragic character Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights). I always wanted to be an actor and at just 16 years old drove to Sydney with less than a dollar in my pocket. He was in a hurry and his soul must have known why because 15 years ago, on January 28, 2008, the world was shocked by the news that Heath was found dead in his apartment in New York. He was only 28 years old.
His first Hollywood movie, 10 Things I Hate About You made him a name that everyone started to pay attention to. He then stole the show in The Patriot, by Mel Gibson and A Knight’s Tale, becoming a young star almost immediately. At the age of 21, he was already famous and in demand.
Versatile, and handsome (but not enough to put him as a heartthrob), he was intense and charismatic. He was at a prestigious turn when he left us, starring in Brokeback Mountain for which he received his first Oscar nomination. His posthumously award-winning performance as the Joker in Batman – The Dark Knight is iconic, legendary and most of all, still stunning.
Involuntarily he became a celebrity, with his love life being the subject of gossip magazines. Naomi Watts couldn’t stand the exposure and Michelle Williams, with whom he had a daughter, was separated from him at the time of his death, caused by poorly cured pneumonia and a mixture of drugs too strong for his heart to withstand.
Heath is still missed in Hollywood and imagining what his development as an actor might have been like only adds to the pain of his departure. Here is a tribute to a star that shone a lot before returning to the sky.