The Lowdown: Things You Never Knew About Heath Ledger

October 13, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Features

Heath Ledger’s tragic death last year of an accidental overdose rocked the film world.

One of its rising stars, acclaimed for his work on Brokeback Mountain, The Dark Knight (for which he won a posthumous Oscar for Best Supporting Actor), he was working on Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (review here) when he met his untimely death.

Imaginarium is out on the 16th of October with Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell stepping in to fill the gaps that Ledger’s death left in the filming. So, in memory of Heath Ledger, here are 10 things you might not have known about the multi-talented star.

1. He and his older sister Kate were named after the leads in the Emily Bronte classic Wuthering Heights (Cathy and Heathcliff)

2. Ledger’s first acting experience was as Peter Pan in a school play at the age of 10.

3. He was an avid chess player and won Western Australia’s Junior Chess Championship at the age of 10 and often played with other chess enthusiasts in Washington Square Park. He was planning to star and direct an adaptation of Allan Scott’s chess-related 1983 novel, The Queen’s Gambit.

4. He excelled at sport, making the first U17 State Team in field hockey and was touted to be one of the sport’s up and coming young stars but elected to study acting instead.

5. He had aspirations to become a director. His first forays into directing started with music videos and he directed a video for Australian hip hop group N’fa called Cause An Effect.

6. He was planning on making a documentary about the ill-fated life of Nick Drake, a celebrated musician who suffered from depression and committed suicide at the age of 26. He created and acted in a music video for Drake’s song about depression, Black Eyed Dog.

7. Before getting into movies, he acted in the Australian soap, Home and Away, which has had several ex-cast members who have gone on to bigger things including Guy Pearce, Naomi Watts, Isla Fisher and Melissa George (seen in the new Chris Smith thriller Triangle).

8. He had a rather turbulent relationship with the Australian press which led to him relocating to New York City. He was accused of spitting at Australian journalists, something which he strongly denied but in 2004, journalists squirted him with water pistols on the red carpet of Brokeback Mountain.

9. He met Michelle Williams, the mother of his daughter Matilda, on the set of Brokeback Mountain. His co-star Jake Gyllenhall is the child’s godfather.

10. He’s only one of eight other actors to win the grand slam of awards for the same performance (in his case for The Joker in The Dark Knight). These are the Academy Award, BAFTA, Golden Globe and Screen Actors’ Guild (SAG) Award.

Jez Sands