Heath Andrew Ledger (4 April, 1979 - 22 January, 2008) was an Australian television and film actor best known for his movie roles as Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain (2005) and the Joker in The Dark Knight (2008) and considered one of the most promising actors of his generation before his accidental death at 28.
By Heath Ledger
- I'm not good at future planning. I don't plan at all. I don't know what I'm doing tomorrow. I don't have a day planner and I don't have a diary. I completely live in the now, not in the past, not in the future.
- I had a year where I sat around on my butt and declined generous offers to do more teen movies and more of the same characters as the one from 10 Things. I was literally living off Ramen noodles and water just because I was sticking to my guns. It was very hard because they offer you so much money. It's so easy to say, 'Ah fuck it, at least I can live and eat.'
- Interview with Detour (Summer 2000).
- All of this is so insignificant. In the grand scale of things, there have been so many before who have been in this position. I'm just another one. Life is so short. It's like we're already gone, really, in retrospect.
- [I'm] an extremely private dude and all this is happening so damn quick. I really haven't had any time to rationalize it. But it's nothing that I'm going to let freak me out or take control of me or my thoughts or my real life.
- I love acting. Oh, God, I love it. But all this fame and all this bullshit attention. I'm not supernatural. I've done nothing extremely special to deserve the position. It happens every couple of years, and it's happened to hundreds of people before me.
- I'm in control of my life, not anyone in Hollywood. I only do this because I'm having fun. The day I stop having fun, I'll just walk away. I wasn't going to have fun doing a teen movie again. I don't want to do this for the rest of my life. I don't. I don't even want to spend the rest of my youth doing this in this industry. There's so much more I want to discover.
- As quoted in an interview in Vanity Fair (August 2000).
- When anything is blocking my head or there's worry in my life, I just 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 thought. It's just one solid speck. Then nothing really matters. It just doesn't.
- As quoted in an interview in Vanity Fair (August 2000).
- I'm the worst auditioner, really, really bad. I mean, you're being judged and I'm just so aware of it that it consumes me. I can't relax, I'm tied in knots, so the voice is very taut and tense. You're so aware that you're acting 'cause you're sitting across from this lady with a piece of paper who's going, I'm. Going. To. Shoot. You. If. You. Don't. Blah, blah, blah, in this emotionless voice. It's foul. I hate it.
- As quoted by EW.com (May 2001).
- I don't have a technique. I've never been a believer in having one set technique on how to act. There are no rules and there is no rulebook. At the end of the day, it all comes down to my instincts. That's the one thing that guides me through every decision professionally. Socially, also. That's my technique. Yeah, you read through the script 100 times. I guess I have little characteristics about myself. Sometimes, most often than not, once we start shooting I won't look at the script at all until we finished shooting. It's kind of like it's been imprinted in my head during rehearsals. You just let it go.
- As quoted by Reel.com (May 2001).
- Most of the time you don't even know they're there. Now, that's the scary thing. It's really strange and invading, but I'm still working it all out. I try to not let it bother me. And if I want to swim naked in my pool, I'm still going to do it. I certainly don't want to feel that I have to change everything in my life that I do to cater to them. I just won't let it happen.
- Speaking on his problems with the paparazzi, as quoted in the National Post (May 2001).
- I just like interesting people. When we worked together on Ned Kelly, Naomi and I definitely had a connection, but it probably happened off screen rather than on, because when you're working there's nothing sexy about 50 people standing around staring at you.
- Matilda is adorable, and beautifully observant and wise. Michelle and I love her so much. Becoming a father exceeds all my expectations. It's the most remarkable experience I've ever had — it's marvelous.
- I apologize for my terrible interview skills. I wasn't prepared to expose stories about something so special and wonderfully private that is happening in my life. I guess a part of me wishes that I'd never have to and that maybe I could protect this special time. I was dreaming.
- Apology from Ledger after he ignored reporters' questions and focused on peeling an orange for Sunrise, (September 2005).
- It's like anything in life, visualizing the old man you're going to become: As long as you have a clear picture of that — the life you want to lead — eventually you'll probably get there.
- Quoted in Variety (December 2005).
- You know when you see the preachers down South? And they grab a believer and they go, "Bwoom! I touch you with the hand of God!" And they believe so strongly, they're on the ground shaking and spitting. And fuck's sake, that's the power of belief. Now, I don't believe in Jesus, but I believe in my performance. And if you can understand that the power of belief is one of the great tools of our time and that a lot of acting comes from it, you can do anything.
- In this industry, interest in you comes in waves, it's so tidal. And so I don't really want to jump on the first wave that comes along.
- I actually hate comic book movies, like fucking hate them, they just bore me shitless and they're just dumb. But I thought what Chris Nolan did with Batman was actually really good, really well directed, and Christian Bale was really great in it.
- "Dark Horizons", Star Central (September 2006).
- [The Joker is a] psychopathic, mass murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy. ... Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night. I couldn't stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going.
- I sat around in a hotel room in London for about a month, locked myself away, formed a little diary and experimented with voices — it was important to try to find a somewhat iconic voice and laugh. I ended up landing more in the realm of a psychopath — someone with very little to no conscience towards his acts ... just an absolute sociopath, a cold-blooded, mass-murdering clown .... [being given] free rein [by director Christopher Nolan was] fun, because there are no real boundaries to what The Joker would say or do. Nothing intimidates him, and everything is a big joke."
- Having a child changes every aspect of your life — for the better, of course. The sacrifices are large, but what you get in return is even bigger than the sacrifices you make. I feel, in a sense, ready to die because you are living on in your child. Not literally, not ready to die — but you know, that sort of feeling in a profound way.
- I have never had great expectations of my performance or of a film. I try not to think about the outcome. If you look that far ahead, it sort of taints your choices as an actor. I try as hard as I can to believe that no one is ever going to see it and that it's not even a movie. Then you can allow yourself to bare more. Then, once a project is done, I tend to forget about it until it comes out.
- ... no amount of money changes what I do between 'action' and 'cut'. ... Before I got into the industry, I never imagined I'd have anywhere near the money I have now. ... I don’t need any more. It's not that I don’t want the money, it's just that I would have been really happy sitting on a beach or surfing every morning. ... I never had money, and I was very happy without it. When I die, my money's not gonna come with me. My movies will live on – for people to judge what I was as a person. I just want to stay curious.
- Between the choreographers and me, we kind of played with it. We wanted a bit of Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire influence. It was totally choreographed and then I just made it sloppy.
- On performing "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" in 10 Things I Hate About You
- If you are just safe about the choices you make, you don't grow.
- I'm still a kid. I'm like six years old. But it's just a matter of wanting to get up, it's just a big journey. I felt like when I left home that I was on a journey, and I still am.
- The challenge was to capture the stillness of him. I have kind of semi-frantic, nervous energy. Harnessing that was something I thought I'd have to work out. Shooting in the wilderness, the stillness became like this innate quality.
- The Joker, so far, is definitely the most fun I've had with any character. He's just out of control - no empathy, he's a sociopath, uh, a psychotic, mass-murdering clown. And, uh, I'm just thoroughly, thoroughly enjoying it. It's just exceeded any expectations I had of what the experience would be like.
- The stubble.
About Heath Ledger
- I deeply respect Heath's work and always admired his continuing development as an artist. My thoughts are with his family and close friends.
- Mr. Heath Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam, and doxylamine. ... We have concluded that the manner of death is accident, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications.
- We tested a lot of people and when Heath came along, he had the same manly qualities Mel Gibson had as a young man. They're never really boys; they already have it
- I had such great hope for him. He was just taking off and to lose his life at such a young age is a tragic loss. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.
- Once every 50 years a guy like that comes along. For his age, Heath has an incredible manliness about him. I think he has a strong sense of himself, but it's especially amazing in someone so young, because usually male stars don't develop that kind of thing until their thirties.
- That's terrible. Drugs today... when we [members of his own generation] stopped taking drugs, they [members of Ledger's generation] started. It is just an epidemic. I am sorry to hear that. He was a great talent.
- The studio is stunned and devastated by this tragic news. The entertainment community has lost an enormous talent. Heath was a brilliant actor and an exceptional person. Our hearts go out to his family.
- Working with Heath was one of the purest joys of my life. He brought to the role of Ennis more than any of us could have imagined - a thirst for life, for love, and for truth, and a vulnerability that made everyone who knew him love him. His death is heartbreaking.
- Heath has touched so many people on so many different levels during his short life but few had the pleasure of truly knowing him. He was a down to earth, generous, kind-hearted, life-loving, unselfish individual who was extremely inspirational to many.
- Today's results put an end to speculation, but our son's beautiful spirit and enduring memory will forever remain in our hearts. While no medications were taken in excess, we learned today the combination of doctor-prescribed drugs proved lethal for our boy. Heath's accidental death serves as a caution to the hidden dangers of combining prescription medication, even at low dosage.
- It is tragic that we have lost one of our nation's finest actors in the prime of his life. Heath Ledger's diverse and challenging roles will be remembered as some of the great performances by an Australian actor.
- He was just so respected in the industry. It's just horribly tragic. He was just a fine actor and a good person, so this is horribly sad and very unexpected.
- It's really, really sad. I hope his family is okay. I wish them the best.
- I adored him. I don't know how to compare his talent to others but he's touched me deeply as a talent and it's a great loss - losing him at any age would be a loss but it was pretty rough news. I was really shocked by it.
- We mourn the loss of a remarkable talent gone too soon... and the passing of an extraordinary man who will be greatly missed.
- Please respect our need to grieve privately. My heart is broken. I am the mother of the most tender-hearted, high-spirited, beautiful little girl who is the spitting image of her father. All that I can cling to is his presence inside her that reveals itself every day. His family and I watch Matilda as she whispers to trees, hugs animals, and takes steps two at a time, and we know that he is with us still. She will be brought up with the best memories of him.
- Heath Ledger is frighteningly young and frighteningly intelligent. He's a very hard worker, very devoted [and] not a bit spoiled or pretentious.
- Mark Addy, actor.
- As a man and a father I look at the age of 28 to 38 as being an incredible period to go through and he was robbed of that. From my own personal experience I just thought how unbelievably tragic it is. It's shocking.
- Eric Bana, actor.
- He's walking around with a $40 million plus film on his shoulders like he's been doing it all his life.
- He was a very, very gifted young man. Incredibly talented.
- Patricia Clarkson, actress.
- He does his stuff really well, he's got a real good screen presence and a lot of talent. He's more mature than I was at that age. He seems more worldly, seems to know his way around.
- I've heard that before. I take it as a great compliment. I love Heath. He taught me everything I know.
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt, actor, when asked in an interview about their resemblance.
- I just have to say that Heath is the greatest. He is an amazing person, incredible, and so Australians must be doing something right. He is just so relaxed and I feel like Australia must be like that.
- Heather Graham, actress.
- I think Heath has a natural screen presence, he has a focus that distinguishes him from a lot of young actors. There's a depth and intelligence that is operating that's not only there, but also focused into what he is doing, being clear in what the role is, about what he's trying to achieve with it, this brings a balance with the other cast who are considerably more experienced than him in most cases, that's very important for the story to work. Without that, we would lose center, he brings that focus.
- Marian Macgowan, producer of Two Hands (1999).
- Heath Ledger passed away this week, and in all the years we've been doing this show, we've never had cause to mention him. So, stop digging through the dirt, weasels. A talented, decent guy is gone and our thoughts go out to those who knew him.
- It was a very great challenge for Heath. He's extremely original, extremely frightening, tremendously edgy. A very young character, a very anarchic presence that taps into a lot of our basic fears and panic.
- He's awesome! He's really, really charming, sexy, and just himself and natural, and he made it very easy for me to work with him.
- Heath's sexy, but it's not an I'm-better-than-you kind of sexy. He's so much fun to be around because he doesn't try to play it cool.
- He was a captivating person. [His] performance in Brokeback Mountain is beautiful. Every time you saw that guy on screen you just wanted to watch him. And it's sad, just sad that he's gone. Too young. Too young.
- Stanley Tucci, actor.
- Sewell Chan and James Barron (contributing). "City Room: Heath Ledger's Death Is Ruled an Accident", The New York Times, cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com (The New York Times Company), February 6, 2008. URL accessed on 2008-08-22.
- Sarah Lyall. "Movies: In Stetson or Wig, He's Hard to Pin Down", The New York Times, Movies, nytimes.com, November 4, 2007. URL accessed on 2008-08-18.
- Dan Jolin (January 2008). "Fear Has a Face". Empire 223: 87–88. Retrieved on 2008-07-08.
- Dan Jolin (July 2008). "The Dark Knight". Empire 229: 92–100. Retrieved on 2008-08-18.
- Olly Richards. "World Exclusive: The Joker Speaks: He's a Cold-blooded Mass-murdering Clown", Empire, Bauer Verlagsgruppe, November 28, 2007. URL accessed on 2008-08-18.
- In Quotes: Heath Ledger Tributes". BBC News, Entertainment. bbc.co.uk (BBC) (January 23, 2008). Retrieved on 2008-08-23.
- Kareen Wynter. "Actor Heath Ledger Dead at 28", CNN, cnn.com (Time Warner), January 22, 2008, Entertainment. URL accessed on 2008-08-22.
- "Michelle Williams: Heath Ledger Has Broken My Heart", The Daily Telegraph, news.com.au, February 1, 2008. URL accessed on 2008-02-01.
- "Michelle Williams Breaks Silence on Heath's Death", People, people.com (Time Inc.), February 1, 2008. URL accessed on 2008-02-02.