Actor Heath Ledger Found Dead in Manhattan Apartment

Heath_ledger

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…

RELATED STORIES:

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]

Comments

  1. alanontowlerorad says

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

  2. Tom says

    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.

  3. the queen says

    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…

  4. Maverick69 says

    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?

  5. peterparker says

    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.

  6. thin mint says

    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.

  7. says

    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……

  8. Michael says

    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.

  9. rich says

    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.

  10. thin mint says

    @BRIAN

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

  11. Jimmy says

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

  12. says

    So much fame, resources at his disposal, the influence to change and affect people and yet the mirror seems to only reflect one way. His actions were selfish and hurtful to those who loved and cared about him.

  13. ReasonBased says

    DRUGS. Why do people feel the need to fuck their brain up with this shit? Can’t they have fun any other way? What a waste, he was so talented…

  14. Mark says

    Who Heath Ledger was as a man, as an actor, and as a couragous artist in film, made a difference in countless lives that we live as gay men. No doubt. Whatever the memorial services will be for Mr. Ledger (either private or public), we as gay men must represent. We can show the world how much we honor artists and their profound contribution they give us. May God bless the soul of Heath Ledger.

  15. ReasonBased says

    DRUGS. Why do people feel the need to fuck their brain up with this shit? Can’t they have fun any other way? What a waste, he was so talented…

  16. thin mint says

    Of course it’s too early to really make the call, but the story now up at NYTimes.com says the death is being treated as a suicide, not an accidental overdose.

  17. says

    Good grief! A friend called and told me and I genuinely couldn’t believe it. 28 years old!!!

    Pills. And I’ll bet they were legal and proscribed. The new legal stuff is DEADLY. Everybody knows Vicotin is worse that heorin. At least I hope they do. No way of knowing what he took until the autopsy is performed.

    Maybe we’ll found out what killed him, and maybe we won’t. Terribly, terribly sad.

  18. Ben says

    The NYT also said the drugs were over-the-counter sleeping pills, so his death seems more likely to be a suicide or an accident than a result of some debauched LA lifestyle.

    I’m still shocked. God, Ennis is dead. RIP, Heath, and thanks for Brokeback.

  19. says

    It’s hard to know what to say. His performance in Brokeback was so retrained, dignified and emotionally powerful; who knows what he would have been capable of as an actor. He is a great loss to acting and, of course, to his daughter, who will now never know him.

    Tragic.

  20. says

    to suggest that there even is an “LA lifestyle” is ricockulous. and as others have noted, he was in NY. but i can relate to the feelings of shock and disbelief when i heard it. makes me very grateful to have today and i’ll be grateful again if i get tomorrow.

  21. Robert says

    Oh come on, David, Vicodin is nowhere near as bad as heroin. (I’ve unfortunately done enough of both to comment here.) Maybe you’re thinking of Oxycontin, which is basically legal heroin if you don’t take it as prescribed (that is, snort it rather than swallow it).

    In any event, we don’t have any idea what his drug use history was. If he killed himself or died accidentally using over the counter medication, then obviously he wasn’t abusing much heavier stuff—his tolerance would have made it much harder. In any case, depression and addiction often become linked, and both are extremely difficult to overcome. I’m glad I have, and don’t understand how Heath couldn’t, given his enormous resources. Yes, his actions have hurt his “friends” and family, but they should have intervened much sooner, and not taken no for an answer. Like everyone else, celebrities need to be called on their bad behavior.

  22. Michael Bedwell says

    Friend this letter….

    “Heath Ledger is just almost really beyond description as far as I’m concerned. He got inside the story more deeply than I did. All that thinking about the character of Ennis that was so hard for me to get, Ledger just was there. He did indeed move inside the skin of the character, not just in the shirt but inside the person. It was remarkable. – Annie Proulx

    Heath Ledger’s wrenching performance is the stuff of Hollywood history.” – Manohla Dargis, NY Times

    Mr. Ledger magically and mysteriously disappears beneath the skin of his lean, sinewy character. It is a great screen performance, as good as the best of Marlon Brando and Sean Penn. – Stephen Holden, NY Times

    But maybe anyone would look thin next to Ledger’s Ennis Del Mar. The actor hunches over and pulls his emotions under his canvas coat; he doesn’t age so much as slowly cave in. That’s fitting: Ennis is both ennobled and shamed by feelings he doesn’t possess words to describe. ”This thing we have” is the closest he comes, and yet it’s the only real part of his life, despite the damage left in its wake. Ledger turns the classic iconography of the Western male — a cowboy hat pulled low, a measured drawl that says no more than it absolutely has to — into protective coloring. The genius of the performance is in how little he shows and how much he suggests. – Ty Burr, Boston Globe

    Both actors do memorable work, but Ledger has the better role, and he makes the strongest choices. He gives Ennis a voice and mannerisms that are utterly idiosyncratic, and then inhabits those choices psychologically, making sense of the locked-down speech, the haunted look and the strong but diffident manner. He completely transforms himself. It’s a performance that was thought through in detail and then lived in the moment, and it’s one of the most beautiful things in movies this year. – Mick LaSalle, SF Chronicle

    Jack, a shade more comfortable with his nature, talks of getting a ranch together, but Ennis will have none of it: Stung by childhood memories of a rancher who lived with a man and got bashed for it, he fears — he knows — that exposure could kill them. In the classic Westerns, the cowboys were often men of few words, but Heath Ledger speaks in tones so low and gruff and raspy his words just about scrape ground, and he doesn’t string a whole lot of those words together. Ennis’ inexpressiveness is truly …inexpressive, yet ironically eloquent for that very reason, as tiny glimmers of soul escape his rigid facade. Ennis says nothing he doesn’t mean; he’s incapable of guile, yet he erupts in tantrums — the anger of a man who can’t be what he is and doesn’t realize the quandary is eating him alive. Ledger, with beady eyes and pursed lips, gives a performance of extraordinary, gnarled tenderness. Revolutionary. A film in which love feels almost as if it were being invented. – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

    More than any of the others, Ledger brings this film alive by going so deeply into his character you wonder if he’ll be able to come back. Aside from his small but strong part in “Monster’s Ball,” nothing in the Australian-born Ledger’s previous credits prepares us for the power and authenticity of his work here as a laconic, interior man of the West, a performance so persuasive that “Brokeback Mountain” could not have succeeded without it. Ennis’ pain, his rage, his sense of longing and loss are real for the actor, and that makes them unforgettable for everyone else. – Kenneth Turan, LA Times

    Ledger’s magnificent performance is an acting miracle. He seems to tear it from his insides. Ledger doesn’t just know how Ennis moves, speaks and listens; he knows how he breathes. To see him inhale the scent of a shirt hanging in Jack’s closet is to take measure of the pain of love lost. As Jack told him once, “That ol’ Brokeback got us good.” It hits you like a shot in the heart. – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

    What Jack remembered and craved in a way he could neither help nor understand was the time that distant summer on Brokeback when Ennis had come up behind him and pulled him close, the silent embrace satisfying some shared and sexless hunger. They had stood that way for a long time in front of the fire, its burning tossing ruddy chunks of light, the shadow of their bodies a single column against the rock. The minutes ticked by from the round watch in Ennis’s pocket, from the sticks in the fire settling into coals. Stars bit through the wavy heat layers above the fire. Ennis’s breath came slow and quiet, he hummed, rocked a little in the sparklight and Jack leaned against the steady heartbeat, the vibrations of the humming like faint electricity and, standing, he fell into sleep that was not sleep but something else drowsy and tranced until Ennis, dredging up a rusty but still useable phrase from the childhood time before his mother died, said, “Time to hit the hay, cowboy. I got a go. Come on, you’re sleepin on your feet like a horse,” and gave Jack a shake, a push, and went off in the darkness. – Brokeback Mountain, Annie Proulx

    GO TO: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v116/elouisa/dominic%20monaghan%20and%20picspam/trial3-1.gif

  23. Rob (lrdarystar) says

    As usual, I’m left asking why? Loneliness? Depression? It’s not like he wasn’t getting work…

    Terribly, utterly sad.

  24. virgoboy says

    I can’t even process this right now… i’ve tried 3 times, now, to type something… just can’t do it……………… and i have been thinking a LOT about Brokeback Mtn. the last few days as i do this time of year as it was two years ago (?) that most of us boys were in the throws of that film, reacting good and bad, taking into account our own lives and experiences and how similar they might have been to Jack and Ennis… i feel sick.

  25. Josh says

    Truly terrible. Whether accidental or intentional, we’ve lost one of the great young actors of our generation.

  26. Webster says

    Let’s all try not to pass judgment until we know what happened. Anyone, ANYONE, can be touched by depression–doesn’t matter whether you’re young or old, rich or poor–and if that was the cause, maybe it will make people finally begin to look at depression as the very real illness it is and help people to overcome it. There are around 80 suicides a day in America–most of them caused by depression.

    But, whatever caused his death, it’s heartbreaking for sure. His was a genuine talent and it will be missed.

  27. opicview says

    That is so sad! guess it goes to show you never really know what is going on inside a person. HE WAS ONE OF THE BEST ACTORS AND TO ADD ONE OF THE PEOPLE WITH THE BEST INTENT. wonder why he did it?!

  28. SeanR says

    My partner and I are deeply shocked to hear this news, I’m so sorry for little Mathilda but I hope she will grow up to know how great an actor her father was. RIP.

  29. Arundel says

    As people have said above, I think many of us as gay men will forever appreciate Heath’s sensitive and moving work on Brokeback Mountain. Hard to think of an actor who showed so many people worldwide that gay love has dignity and deserves respect. I’m forever grateful.

    But aside from that, he was a beautiful talented man with a daughter he loved dearly. What a tragic loss, heartbreaking.

  30. says

    this is wicked sad. He was a really talented actor and so many of his movies were memorable, even some of his comedic, fun movies (A Knight’s Tale, for example). It’s sa d we won’t get to see more Heath Ledger films.

    I’ll never get why people would pop pills and do serious drugs.

  31. Ernie says

    What a sad, profound shame. Another talent lost far too early. And it adds another layer of tragedy to “Brokeback Mountain,” one too real.

  32. Richard says

    Sad, sad, sad — a James Dean of our time, an actor who had only begun to show us his depth and range. It pains me to realize that his private side was off balance, and I am sure that those close to him will never get past this loss of warmth and talent. A uniquely talented actor with such potential, he was a favorite to the gay subculture because he was so at ease with his sexuality, and so accepting of ours — and because he was able to deliver such a sensitive portrayal of conflicted sexuality in “Brokeback Mountain.” We all identified with that, and we mourn his death. So sudden, so incomprehensible. Such a loss for the dramatic world and for all of us.

  33. Nick says

    Ok I am torn on this subject. I am sad that he died but I am also angry that people are sitting there saying what a horrible thing it was but I don’t fully by that.

    the reason is that this death was preventable from the start it is not like he was inocent. He chose to take drugs no one forced him. With that in mind I can’t feel sorry for the guy becuase he fucked up, too bad make better choices. i only feel sorry for his family and friends who are left behind to pick up the peices. Were this like a car accident or something else that he couldn’t prevent then yes it would be a tragedy but that wasen’t the case (as far as we know).

    I am going to miss seeing him in movies and I loved many of his past preformances but I can;t let that cloud my eyes as to the circumstances.

    Furthermore do we know if he suffered from depression? I honestly don’t know if it was known or not. If it is unknown then I think that speculating that he did inorder to justify what he did is stupid. People seem to always gloss over the facts because they don’t want to face the truth, and you know what lies never really helped anyone.

    Lastly I don’t think that it is right for people to blame his friends and family for not interviening. i am a firm beliver in people taking responsibility for their own actions.

    So in the end I feel that while it is sad that he died I don’t think that people should be wailing as if this was a stroke of fate. He chose to shoot up and now he is paying the price. If anything you should feel for those who are left behind they are the ones that need the help now.

    P.S. I say the following without malice. I’m not sorry if some of you find this offensive what I have said is the my opinion and if you don’t like that opinion feel free to ignor it. I do ask however to actually honestly think about what I have said.

  34. k says

    For some reason the other night, I decided to re-watch Brokeback Mountain… I still couldn’t help but admire Heath’s incredible work in this film, even after having seen the film many times already. He had an amazing talent and will be sadly missed.

    How very sad he was not able to get help to deal with his personal demons, if indeed his death was a suicide, as it appears.

    Thank you, Heath, for sharing your talent, and especially for taking on the role of Ennis Del Mar. Thoughts and prayers to your family and close friends.

  35. nic says

    heath’s beauty and talent, his powerful performance as ennis del mar and his tragic death called to mind a poem by ee cummings:

    Buffalo Bill’s

    defunct

    who used to

    ride a watersmooth-silver

    stallion

    and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat

    Jesus

    he was a handsome man

    and what i want to know is

    how do you like your blueeyed boy

    Mister Death

  36. patrick nyc says

    ‘I can;t let that cloud my eyes as to the circumstances.’-NICK

    Sine no one knows yet what the ‘circumstances’ were aren’t you a little quick on judging not only him,

    ‘So in the end I feel that while it is sad that he died I don’t think that people should be wailing as if this was a stroke of fate.’

    but other people who are paying respects to a talented man who gave me and many on this site a great gift with his work on Brokeback Mountain. Chill out sir.

    My thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.

  37. soulbrotha says

    Nick, though I don’t fully agree with you, I understand your point to a certain extent.

    However, look at what the author of the short story Brokeback Mountain said about Ledger’s performance as the troubled Ennis:

    “Heath Ledger erased the image I had when I wrote it. He was so visceral. How did this actor get inside my head so well? He understood more about the character than I did. This isn’t nice for a 70-year-old woman to say, but it was a skullfuck.”

    It could be chalked up to great acting chops, but considering roles that he has had in the past, I somehow doubt it.

    R.I.P. Mr. Ledger.

  38. says

    No one really knows what Heath was dealing with, we all deal with things differently in our own lives, he was having trouble sleeping as the media has reported, this just might be an accident, he was reported as being disturbed by the part he portrays in Dark Knight the new Batman movie coming out. I hope we all find out in the next few days that it was an unfortunate accidental overdose of sleeping pills. Sleep disorders are common in America, to much work, not enough rest! Acting can be very demanding. I hope we just remember him in kindness and what he gave to us of himself in film. RIP Heath Ledger.

  39. says

    No one really knows what Heath was dealing with, we all deal with things differently in our own lives, he was having trouble sleeping as the media has reported, this just might be an accident, he was reported as being disturbed by the part he portrays in Dark Knight the new Batman movie coming out. I hope we all find out in the next few days that it was an unfortunate accidental overdose of sleeping pills. Sleep disorders are common in America, to much work, not enough rest! Acting can be very demanding. I hope we just remember him in kindness and what he gave to us of himself in film. RIP Heath Ledger.

  40. Matt says

    I just watched BBM recently and was once again bowled over by Heath’s performance. This is awful and shocking news. I don’t know that much about him and had no idea that he was experiencing so much turmoil in his life.

  41. Mike says

    It is not often that the news shocks anymore as we are all somewhat numb to the news of death in an age of war. But this news is so so sad. Lost is an intelligent, artistic and gifted young man. You will forever be one of my favorite actors Heath. Your pain is ours tonight.

  42. says

    God, some of you are so quick to rush to judgment saying he was living a party lifestyle, taking recreational drugs or even committed suicide. There are widespread reports that he was suffering from pneumonia, so you have no idea what may have caused his death. No one has any idea what happened so until you do, try just paying respects and not passing judgment.

    He was a fantastic and brave actor, a true inspiration to a lot of gay people for telling a story that reflected struggles a lot of gay men have dealt with. Let’s just focus on that for now and not be so quick to guess at what happened.

  43. Jersey says

    So sad for all. Quit jumping to conclusions about some drug use/suicide death. The cops have no idea yet how this happened. It very easily could have been a result of him having pneumonia and a prescription drug interaction. Start your silly harping on some unsubstantiated drug addiction after you find out what really happened and avoid embarrassing yourselves.

  44. Rafael says

    I’m at a lost of words. I’m so sadden I can give so little to someone who gave so much, may you rest in peace Heath.

  45. Michael Bedwell says

    Commentary by “SF Chronicle” film critic Mick LaSalle:

    In a little while, perhaps before you read this, the rest of the details will become known. Was it an accident? Was it suicide? Was there an unknown history of drug abuse? The answers to these questions will become part of the legend, and Heath Ledger will be enlisted into that ghoulish gallery of movie stars who, for one reason or another, died a good half-century ahead of schedule.
    But before that happens – before the false hand-wringing begins on the nightly entertainment shows – before the interviews with ex-girlfriends reveal unknown truths that are probably false – and before the grave diggers show up with their microphones and cameras and their heads that can’t furrow in fake grief because of all the botox injections – it might be worthwhile to take a moment to remember why exactly this particular 28-year-old rates an obituary in every major newspaper on the planet today.

    Like few who ever lived, much less lived to be 28, Heath Ledger left behind moments and images that were guaranteed even Tuesday – even a week ago, when he was presumably healthy and had the world before him – to outlive his mortal life. When I got the news, I immediately flashed on one of them.
    In “Brokeback Mountain,” having said goodbye to Jake Gyllenhaal after their summer together – which is the only thing they’ll ever have in their lives, and they seem to know it – he walks stoically away, then enters the frame as he passes an alley. In the background is the sky. Limitless. He stops, enters the alley and becomes a silhouette. He puts his head against the wall and sobs, struggling to hide his face with his hat. He curses. He punches the wall. He yells angrily at someone who passes by and stops to look. And two seconds later we see him in close-up, looking boyish and yet somehow like the world has just closed up, standing at the altar getting married. …

    Unlike most of his contemporaries, Ledger had an old-fashioned manliness – the kind that seems to have fled America and gone south in recent years, as far south as Australia. (He was born there, in Perth, in 1979.) But unlike most of the old-fashioned manly stars of America’s macho period, Ledger was at his best playing men in turmoil, men in trouble, men suffering from deep wounds to the spirit. At 28, he had 25 prime casting years ahead of him. Just to be selfish for a minute, think of how that talent may have grown.

    The Hollywood of today doesn’t nurture acting talent. That is, it doesn’t look for roles that explore the actors’ soul. But even accepting that, just by chance and the law of averages, just with a little dumb luck, Ledger should have had two or three or five or six more films in his life that challenged him the way “Brokeback Mountain” challenged him. I think that would have been Ledger’s career, from here on out: A combination of OK movies in which he played men who were as magnificent as he looked. And better movies, in which he played men whose imposing physical presence and locked-down stoicism were a façade for an emotional life of desperation and helplessness.

    Instead of looking forward, we’re forced to look back – to the fragile young man he played in “Monster’s Ball,” who shoots himself in a fit of anguish. Or to “Casanova” and those scenes when the great seducer discovers his capacity to love one woman. Or to movies like “Ned Kelly,” those ones with nothing much to recommend them besides what I once called Ledger’s “big-slab-of-a-guy magnetism.”

    There’s no way to make sense of this. No way to end an appreciation like this on an uplift when the news is so sad. If there’s something positive to be said, it’s that the best work Ledger left behind will last forever….”

  46. sparks says

    This is heartbreaking. Rarely have I felt this saddened about an actor or entertainer passing.

  47. Wyoming Dude says

    Heath, you broke our hearts in Brokeback. Now we are shattered again. You played a tragic part but now it’s for real. I hope you knew how many lives you have touched and how you revived our youthful longings and dreams. Good night, sweet prince and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

  48. says

    A revelatory, astonishing performance by a good-sure-to-be-great actor in a good-not-great film. I hope it wasn’t recreational drugs or suicide – that would only prove him to be a coward. I feel sad for his daughter and ex-wife (especially if it were drug use).

    Sure, the gays loved him because of ‘Brokeback’ but I wonder how many would really care all that much of his passing if he never starred in that film or if he wasn’t beautiful. But lovers of film knew him as a raw talent – as an actor he seemed to come from another time, where and when actors delved into their psyche to explore the human remains, no matter how dim-witted the film or revolutionary the project. Here was a talent that would stand with the greats in time. I actually believe that. And now, I’ll never know. We will never know.

    What a loss for true film fans.

  49. John says

    @ MICHAEL BEDWELL–

    Thanks for sharing that article. This really is incredibly sad. He was such an incredible actor…even my more cynical straight friends had their hearts torn out by him in ‘Brokeback Mountain.’

    Morbid as this is, I can’t get the image of his character’s demise from ‘Monster’s Ball’ out of my head.

    God bless him and his family and friends.

  50. Patrick says

    The only good homophobic Aussie is a dead homophobic Aussie.

    Death to Australia and to Aussie homophobia.

  51. voodoolock says

    @jeffrerychrist

    “Sure, the gays loved him because of ‘Brokeback’ but I wonder how many would really care all that much of his passing if he never starred in that film or if he wasn’t beautiful.”

    EXCUSE ME????? You use the loss of a wonderful actor to bash gays? Shame on you! If you don’t have anything nice to say, perhaps you should keep your mouth shut. There was absolutely no other reason for you to post your comment. Your underhanded compliments of the film and the man “Good-not-great” really show that you are neither good nor great. You’re just someone who came here to prove something, and what might be completely mystifies me.

    Your name is Christ, why not try to follow his example.

  52. peterparker says

    PATRICK…Heath Ledger played gay twice…once in Brokeback Mountain and once in an Australian television series. What gives you the idea that he was homophobic?

  53. says

    Hey Voodoolock, you moron – I AM gay. And I stand by my remark. I don’t believe you or most gay men I know would give a shit otherwise. Sorry the truth hurts. And it’s hardly gay bashing.
    Also, it’s not an underhanded compliment. It was a good film – just not a great one.
    And, my name is Christ because it’s part of my last name.
    He was a raw talent. And should be remembered as such.

  54. peterparker says

    I cannot bring myself to look at clips from Brokeback Mountain right now…just can’t do it.

  55. voodoolock says

    @jeffreychrist

    just because you’re gay doesn’t mean what you said isn’t bashing.

    and since you know nothing about me or how long i’ve known heath ledger, i’d say your comment is a gross generalization about the gay population, is completely unwarranted, and speaks volumes about you.

  56. says

    So be it Voodoolock. That is your opinion such as my statement is mine. We both believe in what we say and neither one of us is going to change the other’s mind.

    Now, let’s not use Towlerroad as a way to bash each other…that’s not what this is about.

    Let us remember Heath and the talent he was.

  57. Jersey says

    Geez what’s so bad about feeling sad about the loss of somebody who was obviously a freind to us. True I couldn’t give flying fuck if Mel Gibson or Tom Cruise died but Heath Ledger was definitely a good guy and it is a terrible loss.

  58. ZEKE says

    I just got home and heard the news from my husband. I’m shocked. It sounds silly but I think many in the gay community came to feel a connection to and a friendship with Heath and Jake. This feels almost like a death in the family.

    Truly sad and tragic.

    My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, especially his daughter Matilda.

    RIP Heath.

  59. Acolyte says

    I’m thinking of the scene in Brokeback when Jack and Ennis see each other for the last time, and they’re fighting, and the reality of all the time they’ve wasted and now lost has been realized. The pain on Ennis’s face as he says “…I’m nothing, I’m nowhere…” is quite possibly the most astonishing, painful thing I’ve ever seen on film. The movie got the reception it did–from every corner of this country, no, the world–because it was more than just a “gay” movie. It was a human movie, and Heath’s portrayal of Ennis was a human one. No more, no less.

    Which is why it’s so sad that there are posts on here describing those who would turn to drugs or commit suicide (even though we don’t know yet what, exactly, happened) as “cowardly”. You are showing, in your callousness, the kind of attitude that creates an Ennis del Mar in the first place–the fear of emotion, of pain, of feeling that is at the heart of depression itself.

    Your self-righteous attitude springs from the same source as the machinations of the fundamentalists and conservatives we all (myself included) love to hate. You are afraid of your own emotions and take it out on those you deem weaker.

    Please think before you speak…

  60. RP says

    What’s with the fanatical idol-worship?

    Isn’t what happened with the US economy today slightly more important than some tool offing himself? I mean so what if some dumb actor went after a Darwin Award? Have some perspective people (enter all the attacks against reason).

  61. Tony says

    This is so incredibly sad – of course for his family and his young daughter – but also for the world of entertainment. A wonderful and talented actor has been lost today. May he rest in peace.

  62. rafael says

    I was sooo shocked!!! I actually got to meet Heath when I worked the Oscar’s 3 years ago. He was dating Naomi Watts at the time, I gotta say he was the nicest guy ever! I didn’t even know who he was at the time…I was an usher for the Kodak theater. It was my first Oscar’s and I was sooo excited. He was not in his seat for most of the show and we were talking for a long time…he was definitly bored. He was very down to earth. Not only a great actor but a nice guy.

    Such a shame. Rest in peace, man.

  63. JT says

    Not an idol worshiper here. Thought he was a good actor, especially in “Monster’s Ball”. Actually thought BBM was somewhat over-rated; not much “there” there with either the book or movie, for my taste anyway, and that’s just my opinion. But I was sad to hear the news, because I’m always sad when lives are cut short, whatever the reason, whether it’s accidental or intentional or just life biting someone’s balls off and saying, “Fuck you.”

    It’s not about reason, RP. It’s about what gets triggered, and how one feels. Might some responses be out of proportion, given the “real” impact any celebrity has on our lives? Possibly. But what’s it to you?

  64. The Truth Hurts says

    Well I wouldn’t job to conclusions yet people…theres gonna be alot more to this story in the next couple of days. I live at 419 Broome and needless to say that I could have smelled something like this coming. And when I say “smelled” it wasn’t an accuracy the NY Post printed a few days ago when Heath Ledger was spotted on in the subway station with his daughter, balling, and smelling of rot and filth. His PR people Buxbaum media really did a good job keeping this one quiet, but needless to say, those of us who would see him stumbling around SoHo(and vomiting on my front stoop at 6am)will won’t be surprised when the autopsy reports come in.

  65. Lady Heather says

    First of all, my co-worker told me this this afternoon. I nearly shit myself. What a bomb to drop on me!

    R.I.P. Heath.

    But may I add that Larry King is an IDIOT?

    You would think he could TRY doing a little research before he asked such dumb questions. e.g. “are his parents still alive”? (Heath’s father gave a statement which was brodcast on CNN before his show, with Heath’s mother standing next to him). Oh, and he had to emphasize that Heath was NOT gay…(groan)

  66. RP says

    Nic,

    Hahahahahahahahaha!

    I am very much a liberal.

    In fact, my partner of almost 8 years is currently working on a Democrats campaign for governor here in VA.

    Go read a book instead of crying your eyes out over someone you don’t even know. Fool.

  67. ROBERT M. says

    IT’s SAD! HE WAS A GREAT ACTOR &I LOVE BROKE BACK MOUNTAIN & HE WAS A FRIEND TO THE GLBT, HE WILL BE MISSED. R.I.P

  68. nic says

    RP,

    worrying about the economy and lamenting the untimely death of an influential actor are not mutually exclusive. i have a degree in english literature, so i dare say i read more books than you. moreover, there is no evidence that the actor committed suicide. FOOL!

  69. RP says

    Nic,

    I don’t know why you are so angry. I saw that you tried to pick fights in the other threads as well.

    I’m not going to fight you though, so you have fun with that.

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

  70. peterparker says

    RP,

    You said: “Isn’t what happened with the US economy today slightly more important than some tool offing himself?”

    That sentence reveals that you believe money is more important than the life of someone who may have been suffering from depression. In light of the fact that you come from such a mindset, I suggest your spare time would be better spent looking for your missing heart as opposed to posting hateful tripe on the internet about a dead man who happened to be a friend to the GLBT community.

    xo,
    peterparker

  71. nic says

    RB,

    to paraphrase Mies van der Rohe, less is in ALL WAYS more. who picked a fight here?

    to quote you:

    “Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!”

  72. nic says

    RP,

    “Get off the cross. We need the wood for fire.”

    could you be anymore trite?

    you’ve worked yourself into a lather. thankfully, i’ve decided to not pet the sweaty stuff.

  73. RP says

    Peter,

    I believe that the economy possibly going into a major recession is more important from a news stand point than the death of a single actor (no matter how tragic you percieve it to be), and therefore more deserving of our time and discussion. The economy far more impacts the lives of people all over the world than one actor.

    I also think that the amount of distraught displayed by some of the people posting here is a little over the top. Lash out at me all you want, but I stand by my opinion.

    Nic,

    I never addressed you until you called me a “log-cabin repug” and wrote “[YOUR] god doesn’t love me.” Then when I told you am most certainly a liberal, you lashed out at me again. Next I told you I wasn’t going to fight with you. You then tried to make fun of me.

    Obviously you have some pent up anger (you lashed out at someone in almost every thread tonight). You told two people tonight to “Shut the fuck up.”

    Maybe you should go write some more of the AWESOME poetry and release some of that hostility.

  74. nic says

    RP,

    you have cut me to the quick. i surrender. you are a better man than i. what’s more, you have bored into my psyche and found me wanting. “oh, rose thou art sick…” you say to me. alas, woe is me; what can i do? you win. yoouuuu winnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn. cough, gasp, cough….

    And, scene!!!!

    how do you like them AWESOME apples?

    you are no longer worth responding to.

  75. Rafael says

    Such lack of class and sensitivity you have shown thus far Sir. Everything has its place, and you are most definitely not whom to tell others what to do with their time. Please try to reflect within your capacity. Now let us continue to pay our respects to an Actor who was courageous enough to portrait us in a such a formidable way.

  76. nic says

    i could’t resist:

    a “furniture designer?” you are, indeed, profoundly ignorant. perhaps YOU should read a book, now and again.

  77. RP says

    Rafael,

    With all due respect (I assume you are addressing me), this is a public forum. I am free to express my opinion here. If you do not like what I have to say, you can simply scroll on past my comments. I’m not trying to offend you here, but I simply don’t see the logic behind the fanatical idol worship. People saying they have been crying off and on all day is just plain silly. I’m sorry, but I don’t feel that a celebrity’s life is more important than anyone else’s life. I, again, stand by my previous remarks that there are more important issues. I’m appalled that in society today Anna Nicole Smith and Britney Spears get far greater discussion and coverage than say Darfur. For instance, a few major things happened in the economy yesterday (Bank of America reported a 98% loss, the Feds cut interest rates ¾ of a point, et cetera), but after the news of Ledger’s death they were pushed out of the public consciousness.

    Yes. I understand fully that there is a time and a place; however, this forum is a blog. It is not the wake, and we’re not discussing the death of Nobel Prize winner or a world leader. We’re talking about a guy who happened to play gay in a movie. Somehow that makes him more important to a lot of gay people. I think it’s an unsettling trend.

    Attack me for that all you want. I can take the punches.

    Futhermore, I never told anyone what to do with their time. In fact, you are telling me what to do with mine.

  78. RP says

    Van Der Rohe is an architect, but he is more famous for his furniture designs (id est the barcelona chair). In fact, along with Arne Jacobsen he is one of my favorite furniture designers.

    I even have books on him come to think of it.

  79. RP says

    Nic,

    Why are you quoting people if you don’t even know what they are famous for? Then you call me ignorant. God, you are so good for a laugh.

  80. Ronnie Vakil says

    A great and bold actor,a true professional who did not shy away from doing the most controversial role of his lifetime.
    RIP

  81. Ernie says

    The fighting-children-in-a-sandbox mentality of some of the responses here (to a person’s death!) is truly depressing.

    As sickening as the current celebrity worship culture can be, I think people were genuinely shocked and moved by the death of a young talent who starred in a movie that was deeply meaningful to a lot of Towleroad readers. Being moved by a death (yes, even the death of someone you don’t personally know) hardly excludes concern about the economy or Darfur or lies told by the Bush administration. And it doesn’t mean we’re salivating over Britney’s latest shenanigans. Today, life and the economy go on, but it’s still sad that we won’t see a talented actor practicing his art 10 years from now.

  82. Michael Bedwell says

    I respectfully submit I respectfully the lyrics of Mimi Farina spun from a 1911 poem by James Oppenheim:

    As we go marching, marching, in the beauty of the day,
    A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray,
    Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,
    For the people hear us singing: Bread and Roses! Bread and Roses!
    As we go marching, marching, we battle too for men,
    For they are women’s children, and we mother them again.
    Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
    Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses.
    As we go marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
    Go crying through our singing their ancient call for bread.
    Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew.
    Yes, it is bread we fight for, but we fight for roses too.
    As we go marching, marching, we bring the greater days,
    The rising of the women means the rising of the race.
    No more the drudge and idler, ten that toil where one reposes,
    But a sharing of life’s glories: Bread and roses, bread and roses.
    Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
    Hearts starve as well as bodies; bread and roses, bread and roses.

  83. JT says

    Wow. I sure missed a lot since I last posted on this thread. Reminds me why I only occasionally indulge in this sort of thing. Although I think that the internet has a great capacity and potential to educate and enlighten, and can bring people of all hue and stripe together, it too often becomes a way to talk “at” rather than “with” others, and ends up dividing rather than joining us. I wonder how much of this sort of bickering would happen face to face? I wonder if we saw an actual person opposite us, would we so quickly and easily become so insulting?

    People who become defensive are more interested in defending than in learning. If one precipitates defensiveness through one’s discourse, one gets more of what one doesn’t want – a person unwilling to listen. How useful is that? Sure, we all have strong emotional responses at times, and lead with our hearts rather than our heads, but what is the result?

    Could it be okay to be affected by the death of someone whose work has meant something to us, or who we simply became aware of through the media and because of this perhaps false yet still subjectively relevant relationship? And could it also be okay to not be affected and find other issues more important? Does espousing one position necessarily make a person superior to another?

    Live and let live.

  84. nic says

    JT,

    “Could it be okay to be affected by the death of someone whose work has meant something to us, or who we simply became aware of through the media and because of this perhaps false yet still subjectively relevant relationship? And could it also be okay to not be affected and find other issues more important? Does espousing one position necessarily make a person superior to another?”

    answers: yes and yes and maybe.

  85. JT says

    Bravo, NIC.

    Because “maybe” leaves room for “maybe not”, and less heated discourse as well.

    Have a great day.

  86. Tantalus says

    The first time Heath Ledger brought tears to my eyes was his amazing sequence in Jack’s bedroom at the end of Brokeback. Few actors have his ability to pull off convincingly so long a scene, so powerful a scene, with no other actor, with no dialog, with just facial expression and body language to convey emotion. It is one of the great film performances of our time, one that should have given him the Academy Award. Ennis, Jack, and the film as a whole have become symbols, or should become symbols for all of us, of the difficulties and dangers of being gay in a heterosexual world. The second time Heath brought tears to my eyes was Tuesday. His death took away a great talent and a great guy. The Charlie Rose Show ran excerpts from an interview Heath Ledger did to promote Brokeback. You can see either the excerpts or the entire program with Heath and Ang Lee here:

    http://www.charlierose.com/shows/2005/12/07/1/a-conversation-about-the-film-brokeback-mountain

    After hearing Heath explain how he prepared for the film, you will know why Annie Proulx said he got deeper into the character of Ennis than she was able to do.

  87. the queen says

    thanks tantalus for the link to charlie rose, i too believe he was robbed and should have won best actor, it is an incredible performance. thank god the movie was made and made so perfectly. it is a legend.

  88. RickT says

    I respectfuffy agree… Heath’s performance in BBM in unparallelled. A masterpiece in mood and character. I will miss him as if he was a friend.