Heath Ledger started his acting career as a child in Australia but first became well known to the American audience in the hit teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You.

While he passed up several other teen comedy roles, his big break came in 2000 in the movie, The Patriot, where he played Mel Gibson’s son.

Ledger had many film successes throughout his career and several flops, such as Knight’s Tale and The Four Feathers.

His next big hit came in 2005 with his role in Casanova and Brokeback Mountain. However, it was his role in Brokeback Mountain that truly made Ledger a star.

While he may not have won the Oscar for Best Actor for his part, this movie certainly cemented his status as an A-list actor.

While he may have had professional success, his personal life had several rough spots, from his separation in 2007 from Michelle Williams to issues with his mental health after playing the Joker role.

These rough patches would, however, eventually lead to his death.

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10 /10 Ledger's Passing

Heath Ledger passed away on January 22, 2008, at 28 years old. His masseuse found him and his housekeeper on the floor of the apartment he rented in SoHo.

The entirety of New York City and the world was shocked by his unexpected passing. While emergency crews arrived, they were unable to revive him.

9 /10 Cause Of Death

While the media speculated about illegal drug use being a possible cause of death, on February 8, the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office released Ledger’s toxicology reports.

The reports stated he had died of an accidental overdose on prescription medications that included painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs, and sleeping pills.


8 /10 Last Contact With His Sister

On the night before he was found dead, he spoke with his sister Kate over the phone.

She felt he showed no signs of depression and had no hint that he may be suicidal.

Kate thought he was laughing and he was having fun in his role-playing the Joker.

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7 /10 Understanding What Led To His Death

While Ledger may have overdosed, the question remained whether or not it was accidental or on purpose. From those closest to him, the answer is a resounding no.

His father blames his son for his death but does not feel it was a suicide. Instead, his father has spent the last decade warning people of the dangers of prescription pills like those that killed Ledger.


6 /10 Ledger's Personal Life

On the set of Brokeback Mountain, Ledger met actress Michelle Williams. They would later have a daughter in 2005. However, in September 2007, they announced they were separating.

Ledger then moved from their house in Brooklyn to the apartment he rented in SoHo, where he would later pass away.

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5 /10 Remembering Heath Ledger

After his death, memorial services were held in New York and Los Angeles.

His family eventually took his body back to his native country of Australia, and he was buried next to his grandparents in his hometown of Perth.

He was survived by his former partner, Michelle Williams, and daughter Matilda.


4 /10 Roles Before His Death

Ledger was working on several films before his death. At the end of 2007, he just finished filming for The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, and I’m Not There.

He had also recently spent playing the Joker in The Dark Knight, a role even Ledger admitted had made him use prescription drugs to manage both stress and insomnia.

3 /10 Controversy On His Role As The Joker

Ledger’s role as the Joker in The Dark Knight had rumors cast that playing this iconic villain affected him. However, this was dispelled in a recent documentary about the actor from several of his family members.

Though his family felt he was only having fun, the lengths he went to for the role are still well-documented.

Ledger was known for locking himself away in a hotel room to prepare for the position and get to the headspace necessary.

However, this led to him having insomnia issues and could have led to some of the prescription medications he used on the night of his death.


2 /10 Ledger's Legacy

For his performance in portraying the Joker, Ledger would go on to win a posthumous Oscar.

While he has passed away over a decade ago, praise for his performance in movies such as Brokeback Mountain has only continued to increase over the years.

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1 /10 Effect On Michelle Williams

The effect of Ledger’s death on Michelle Williams and their daughter has been great, but Williams has recently stated that she has found peace with his death.

However, she feels she may never truly understand what happened entirely.

While she still misses him and the possibilities that existed, she has finally moved on in her way and found meaning in the circumstances surrounding his death, but not in the actual event itself.

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