Heath Ledger was a bold, inventive actor who relentlessly challenged expectations in each and every movie that he appeared in. The Australian secured his celebrated status by portraying the Joker in Batman movie, The Dark Knight, for which he won a posthumous Oscar after his unfortunate death in 2008.
Heath Ledger’s tragic death before the release of The Dark Knight led to wild speculation that his turn as the Joker in the movie pushed him into a spiral of depression and drugs which finally led him to his death. The actor succumbed to death on January 22, 2008. He was 28 years old.
It was revealed that Heath died from “acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine,” as per the toxicology report that was released after the autopsy.
In order to prepare for the role of Joker, Heath Ledger locked himself in a hotel room for almost a month and prepared for what will turn out to be one of the most defining antagonist characters of all times. In a 2007 interview, the actor said, “It’s a combination of reading all the comic books I could that were relevant to the script and then just closing my eyes and meditating on it. 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. He’s just an absolute sociopath, a cold-blooded, mass-murdering clown.”
After eight years of Heath Ledger’s death, his father spoke out, saying that the actor’s tragic passing away was entirely his own doing. “It was totally his fault,” Kim Ledger said. “It was no one else’s. He reached for [the pills]. He put them in his system. You can’t blame anyone else in that situation. That’s hard to accept because I loved him so much and was so proud of him.”
A new documentary celebrating Ledger’s life and work, “I Am Heath Ledger,” co-directed and produced by Derik Murray, will open nationwide on May 3 and will air on Spike TV on May 17, 2017.