Heath Ledger: Life in pictures
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Heath Ledger: Life in pictures

Heath Ledger: Life in pictures
Early start

Heath Ledger was born in Perth, Australia, in April 1979, the son of a French teacher and a race car driver. Sixteen years later, he sat for his high school exams early so he could pursue an acting career in Sydney. (Carlo Allegri / Getty Images)
Heath Ledger: Life in pictures
First success

Ledger first made a splash in the popular consciousness (at least the teen consciousness) in 1999 when he played the leading man in the romantic comedy “10 Things I Hate About You,” based on Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.”

Pictured: Ledger with Allison Janney and Julia Stiles in “10 Things I Hate About You.” (Touchstone)
Heath Ledger: Life in pictures
The critics take notice

On his way to becoming a major Hollywood star, Ledger landed the role of Mel Gibson’s son in “The Patriot” (2000) and received the Blockbuster Entertainment Award for favorite male newcomer. (Columbia Pictures)
Heath Ledger: Life in pictures
A relationship for the tabloids

The actor began a high-profile relationship with fellow Aussie Naomi Watts, whom he met on the set of “Ned Kelly” and who was more than 10 years his senior. The relationship lasted two years. (Associated Press)
Heath Ledger: Life in pictures
Oscar nomination

After roles in such critically acclaimed films as “The Four Feathers” and “Monster’s Ball,” Ledger cemented his place as one of the “serious” actors when he starred opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in 2005’s “Brokeback Mountain,” playing a gay cowboy. The role earned him an Academy Award nomination for best actor in a leading role. (Focus Features)
Baby time
Baby time

Ledger became engaged to “Brokeback Mountain” costar Michelle Williams, although the two never married. The couple had a baby, Matilda Rose, in October 2005. (Associated Press)
Heath Ledger: Life in pictures
Recent work

Ledger’s next film after “Brokeback Mountain” was the Lasse Hallstrom-directed “Casanova” (2005), which received mixed reviews. In 2006, he made “Candy,” in which he played a heroin addict. He also played a movie-star version of Bob Dylan in 2007’s “I’m Not There.” (Carlo Allegri / Getty Images)
Heath Ledger: Life in pictures
Reconceiving the Joker

Ledger took on the role of the Joker in the sequel to Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins,” a daunting task in that Jack Nicholson’s 1989 depiction of the character is considered iconic. From early trailers, it looked like Ledger’s joker would be darker, grittier and more terrifying than Nicholson’s. (Warner Bros.)
What was supposed to be next
What was supposed to be next

Ledger was working on Terry Gilliam’s fantasy film “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,” which was scheduled for a 2009 release. Filming began in London in December. (Chris Jackson / Getty Images)
Heath Ledger: Life in pictures
Tragic end

Ledger was found dead Jan. 22, 2008, in New York at age 28. (Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images)
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