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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]

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Comments

  1. 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.

    Posted by: Arundel | Jan 22, 2008 6:53:57 PM


  2. 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.

    Posted by: Ryan | Jan 22, 2008 6:57:55 PM


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

    Posted by: Ernie | Jan 22, 2008 6:58:32 PM


  4. 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.

    Posted by: Richard | Jan 22, 2008 7:02:09 PM


  5. Chilling news.

    Posted by: anon (gmail.com) | Jan 22, 2008 7:02:59 PM


  6. 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.

    Posted by: Nick | Jan 22, 2008 7:04:18 PM


  7. 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.

    Posted by: k | Jan 22, 2008 7:05:47 PM


  8. That painting on Ebay linked to above is the only funny part of this thread. Awful.

    Posted by: Paul | Jan 22, 2008 7:11:38 PM


  9. 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

    Posted by: nic | Jan 22, 2008 7:25:45 PM


  10. I shall look for you in the mountains, Heath, sleep well. RickT

    Posted by: RickT | Jan 22, 2008 7:30:22 PM


  11. Damn shitty way to go. But he made a difference and that will endure.

    Just, damn.

    Posted by: Gil | Jan 22, 2008 7:33:23 PM


  12. I shall look for you in the mountains,sleep well, Heath. RickT

    Posted by: RickT | Jan 22, 2008 7:47:56 PM


  13. '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.

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Jan 22, 2008 7:49:51 PM


  14. 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.

    Posted by: soulbrotha | Jan 22, 2008 7:52:36 PM


  15. Heath,

    you will be missed.

    my thoughts are with your family and friends.

    Posted by: Darren | Jan 22, 2008 7:53:29 PM


  16. NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by: Juan C Diaz | Jan 22, 2008 8:03:52 PM


  17. So very sad, he was and is one of my favorites, since the movie the Four Feathers I was in love. May we never forget him..

    Posted by: Michael | Jan 22, 2008 8:35:36 PM


  18. Shocking news.

    Posted by: lou | Jan 22, 2008 8:38:34 PM


  19. 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.

    Posted by: Michael | Jan 22, 2008 8:48:20 PM


  20. 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.

    Posted by: Michael | Jan 22, 2008 8:49:37 PM


  21. 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.

    Posted by: Matt | Jan 22, 2008 8:54:07 PM


  22. 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.

    Posted by: Mike | Jan 22, 2008 9:11:55 PM


  23. We won't always have Heath but "We'll always have Brokeback.” Sad day!

    Posted by: BM | Jan 22, 2008 9:13:38 PM


  24. this is terrible! im crying at this very second. he was amazing

    Posted by: Ross | Jan 22, 2008 9:13:58 PM


  25. 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.

    Posted by: Carrie B | Jan 22, 2008 9:14:21 PM


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