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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...

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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. 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.

    Posted by: Jersey | Jan 22, 2008 9:16:28 PM


  2. 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.

    Posted by: Rafael | Jan 22, 2008 9:17:05 PM


  3. 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...."

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Jan 22, 2008 9:18:35 PM


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

    Posted by: sparks | Jan 22, 2008 9:27:40 PM


  5. 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.

    Posted by: Wyoming Dude | Jan 22, 2008 9:38:20 PM


  6. I'm shocked at what happened and I'm shocked it hit me like this.

    Posted by: Vi Agara | Jan 22, 2008 9:48:41 PM


  7. 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.

    Posted by: jeffreychrist | Jan 22, 2008 9:55:37 PM


  8. @ 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.

    Posted by: John | Jan 22, 2008 10:02:39 PM


  9. Oh, yeah - he was also a talented director. He directed Ben Harper's 'Morning Yearning' video - watch it:

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=rqbcV39Sq1o

    Posted by: jeffreychrist | Jan 22, 2008 10:05:01 PM


  10. The only good homophobic Aussie is a dead homophobic Aussie.

    Death to Australia and to Aussie homophobia.

    Posted by: Patrick | Jan 22, 2008 10:08:39 PM


  11. @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.

    Posted by: voodoolock | Jan 22, 2008 10:09:27 PM


  12. 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?

    Posted by: peterparker | Jan 22, 2008 10:17:16 PM


  13. 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.

    Posted by: jeffreychrist | Jan 22, 2008 10:19:38 PM


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

    Posted by: peterparker | Jan 22, 2008 10:21:48 PM


  15. @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.

    Posted by: voodoolock | Jan 22, 2008 10:29:11 PM


  16. 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.

    Posted by: jeffreychrist | Jan 22, 2008 10:35:44 PM


  17. 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.

    Posted by: Jersey | Jan 22, 2008 10:42:25 PM


  18. R.I.P. Heathcliff Andrew Ledger

    Posted by: voodoolock | Jan 22, 2008 10:55:32 PM


  19. 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.

    Posted by: ZEKE | Jan 22, 2008 11:37:46 PM


  20. 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...

    Posted by: Acolyte | Jan 22, 2008 11:45:23 PM


  21. Heath Ledger just passed, and already the memorabilia has hit ebay:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=160201646855

    Posted by: Heath Fan | Jan 23, 2008 12:00:52 AM


  22. 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).

    Posted by: RP | Jan 23, 2008 12:21:25 AM


  23. 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.

    Posted by: Tony | Jan 23, 2008 12:40:51 AM


  24. Thank you Heath, you will be missed.

    Posted by: Ken Atkins | Jan 23, 2008 12:49:09 AM


  25. 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.

    Posted by: rafael | Jan 23, 2008 12:50:14 AM


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