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Actor Heath Ledger Found Dead in Manhattan Apartment

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Actor Heath Ledger was found dead in a Soho Manhattan apartment this afternoon by his housekeeper.

BroomeThe NY Times reports: "At 3:31 p.m., according to the police, a masseuse arrived at the fourth-floor apartment of the building, at 421 Broome Street, between Crosby and Lafayette Streets in SoHo, for an appointment with Mr. Ledger. The masseuse was let in to the home by a housekeeper, who then knocked on the door of the bedroom Mr. Ledger was in. When no one answered, the housekeeper and the masseuse opened the bedroom and found Mr. Ledger naked and unconscious on a bed, with sleeping pills — both prescription medication and nonprescription — on a night table. They attempted to revive him, but he did not respond. They immediately called the authorities. As the news reports spread quickly, throngs of people gathered in the neighborhood."

TMZ clears up the initial report that Ledger had been found in the apartment of Mary-Kate Olsen: "A cleaning lady for Heath arrived at the apartment first, followed soon thereafter by a masseuse. They both entered the room at around the same time and discovered Heath's lifeless body. The cleaning lady called police. The masseuse, we're told, called the bodyguard for the Olsens. She called him because they're friends and he's an EMT. The bodyguard was around the block at Ashley's and he immediately went over. By the time he arrived, the cops were already there. We're also told it appeared Heath 'had been dead for a while' and there were no visible signs of trauma. There was a pill bottle on the nightstand."

UPDATE - Ledger had pneumonia? TMZ is saying they were contacted by a rep from Heath's family with this information: The cops told the family Heath's death was accidental and there is no evidence to support the buzz that he may have committed suicide. They are particularly distraught over media reports that he may have taken his own life. The family says he was not that kind of person. As we just reported, Heath was ill with pneumonia when he died."

Michelle Williams "devastated"...

ParnassusThis is the last known photograph of Ledger while he was alive, taken on Saturday night on the London set of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

Ledger will be remembered for his sensitive, Oscar-nominated work as Ennis del Mar in the groundbreaking film Brokeback Mountain. He was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Brokeback and won Best Actor awards from the New York and San Francisco Critics Circle.

Focus Features, producers of Brokeback, released the following statement: "Heath Ledger was a courageous actor, and a great soul. He gave us the gift of sharing his fearless and beautiful love —€“ of his craft, and of all who worked with him —€“ for which all of us will be eternally grateful."

Ledger most recently appeared as one version of Bob Dylan in Todd Haynes experimental biopic I'm Not There (pictured). He had completed work on the next Batman film as The Joker opposite Christian Bale.

I'm Not There's director Todd Haynes issued a statement as well: "This is an unimaginable tragedy. Heath was a true artist, a deeply sensitive man, an explorer, gifted and wise beyond his years. There is no finer person on this earth."

Ledger was just 28 years old.

More on this tragic story as it develops...

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A November 2007 NYT profile: "He is here in London filming the latest episode of the 'Batman' franchise,'The Dark Knight.' (Mr. Bale, as it happens, plays Batman; Mr. Ledger plays the Joker.) It is a physically and mentally draining role — his Joker is a 'psychopathic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy' he said cheerfully — and, as often happens when he throws himself into a part, he is not sleeping much. 'Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night,” he said. “I couldn’t stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going.' One night he took an Ambien, which failed to work. He took a second one and fell into a stupor, only to wake up an hour later, his mind still racing."

HlvanityfairAnd here's a 2000 cover story Vanity Fair has just posted to their site, by our own Kevin Sessums, published just as Ledger's career was hitting its stride: "'When I act, I look at it as if I’m a mixing board in a sound studio. The pattern on the board is me. When I play a character, I go, 'I’ll turn these knobs down and these ones up.' But in order to do that I have to know myself. I have to know myself like an instrument. I’m just a saxophone,” he says, shrugging. 'I’ve always been very big on self-exploration and answering my own questions. For so many, it’s hell growing up. But I guess I’m blessed. I’ve really enjoyed it. I don’t let a lot get to me. I really don’t. As I keep saying, I break everything down. Everything. I look up at those stars,' he says, pointing at the sky above the Vltava River, 'and go, 'There’s no explanation for us to be here.' When anything is blocking my head or there’s worry in my life, I just—whoosh—go sit on Mars or something and look back here at Earth. All you can see is this tiny speck. You don’t see the fear. You don’t see the pain. You don’t see the movie industry. You don’t see this interview. You don’t see thought. It’s just one solid speck. Then nothing really matters. It just doesn’t.'"

Heath Ledger, Actor, Is Found Dead at 28 [nyt]

The Towleroad Guide to Brokeback Mountain [tr]

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Comments

  1. very sad!

    Posted by: Travis | Jan 22, 2008 5:10:16 PM


  2. Speechless

    Posted by: Mike | Jan 22, 2008 5:10:39 PM


  3. Rest in peace Heath... You are already missed.

    Posted by: Brian | Jan 22, 2008 5:11:12 PM


  4. Very sorry to hear this. He was a great artist and seemed like a genuine great person.

    Posted by: alanontowlerorad | Jan 22, 2008 5:12:44 PM


  5. Heart breaking news. So, so sad.

    Posted by: Gregory | Jan 22, 2008 5:13:22 PM


  6. PUT ANDY ON SUICIDE WATCH!!!!

    Posted by: Randy | Jan 22, 2008 5:13:41 PM


  7. Terrible! First Brad Renfro, who was known to have a monkey on his poor back, and now this. I'd not heard of a drug problem. What a shame, so young and talented.

    Posted by: Tom | Jan 22, 2008 5:14:36 PM


  8. omigod, i'm just devastated, no that's not the word, utterly wrecked to pieces -- first brad renfro and now this.... rip my darling... you were so wonderful in brokeback which for me at least is the classic gay movie of all time... i've called people to tell them the news and the reaction is one of complete utter shock...

    Posted by: the queen | Jan 22, 2008 5:16:24 PM


  9. Brooklyn will miss you, Heath. R.I.P.

    Posted by: BanjiBOI | Jan 22, 2008 5:17:50 PM


  10. So sad and he has two kids, right?

    such promise and so young.

    Posted by: Marco | Jan 22, 2008 5:18:27 PM


  11. I can't believe this.

    Posted by: fangirlhater | Jan 22, 2008 5:20:23 PM


  12. Holy Crap! I cannot believe that!

    Posted by: Michael W. | Jan 22, 2008 5:21:10 PM


  13. One child, Matilda.

    It's very sad so tragic. I could just burst into tears. Such a young age with all that talent.

    I wonder what haunted him?

    Posted by: Maverick69 | Jan 22, 2008 5:21:28 PM


  14. The last time I felt such a feeling of sadness and despair over the death of someone I never knew was when I heard Diana, Princess of Wales had died. I had always thought Heath Ledger was beautiful, but when he portrayed Ennis del Mar in Brokeback Mountain, he became one of my idols. Not only was he fantastic in the role (and ROBBED of the Academy Award), but it was a really cool move to play a gay guy and give 'our side of the story' a bit of visibility.

    Rest in peace, Heath. We will always miss you and we will mourn for the future you should have had.

    Posted by: peterparker | Jan 22, 2008 5:22:35 PM


  15. Godammit.

    I'd heard he was a partier, but...godammit.

    When you have a little kid you don't get to be fooling around with your health like that.

    Poor little Matilda.

    Posted by: thin mint | Jan 22, 2008 5:22:38 PM


  16. Totally devastated over this sad news. I can't imagine how Jake is taking this, who is the Godfather to Heath's children.

    Rest In Peace Heath. You will be missed more that you will ever know......

    Posted by: Brian | Jan 22, 2008 5:22:39 PM


  17. What a sad end to Heath's life and a tragic loss to all of us. His performance as Ennis in Brokeback Mountain will become legendary, as one critic put it when the film opened. RIP, you beautiful man, RIP.

    Posted by: Michael | Jan 22, 2008 5:23:00 PM


  18. :*(

    Posted by: Robbie Daw | Jan 22, 2008 5:25:16 PM


  19. shocking. my heart dropped to my stomach when i read this.

    Posted by: nic | Jan 22, 2008 5:27:24 PM


  20. Heath Ledger dies...and Britney lives. Huh??
    Who's pulling the strings up there??

    Posted by: jjabely | Jan 22, 2008 5:29:20 PM


  21. This goes along way to explain the breakup between he and Michelle, and remember a few weeks back when he was spotted with Matilda in the subway smelling and looking like he hadn't washed in weeks? So sad.

    Posted by: rich | Jan 22, 2008 5:29:30 PM


  22. @BRIAN

    Uh, yeah. I wonder how Michelle Williams is taking this, who is the mother to Heath's (one) child.

    Posted by: thin mint | Jan 22, 2008 5:30:10 PM


  23. Looks like possible suicide. Just fucking sad.

    Posted by: Marco | Jan 22, 2008 5:30:13 PM


  24. The LA lifestyle takes another talent from us...sad.

    Posted by: J | Jan 22, 2008 5:30:34 PM


  25. I feel an incredible ache in my heart. This is heartbreaking. You will be missed dearly Heath.

    Posted by: Jimmy | Jan 22, 2008 5:30:40 PM


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