Heath Ledger died due to accidental drug overdose. Reports even suggested that the actor was depressed after playing Joker in The Dark Knight. The character took a toll on his mentally and physically, so much so, that he suffered from insomnia. However, this rumour was dispelled in a documentary about the actor.
Speaking at the premiere, sister Kate Ledger refuted such reports. Addressing the audience at the Tribeca Film Festival event, she said, “I was really shocked because that was him having fun. Every report was coming out that he was depressed and that [the role] was taking this toll on him, and we’re going, honestly, it was the absolute opposite. It couldn’t be more wrong. He had an amazing sense of humour, and I guess maybe only his family and friends knew that, but he was having fun. He wasn’t depressed about the Joker.”
The actor, in an interview with New York Times, said that playing Joker was ‘physically and mentally draining’ for him. In an interview published on 4 November 2007, Heath Ledger had said,"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."
Reports say that Ledger locked himself away in a hotel room to prep for the role. In 2007, he told Empire, “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.”
The documentary also featured his father Kim. He revealed the notes the actor made in his diary which includes images of hyenas and pictures of the character Alex DeLarge from the movie A Clockwork Orange. The last page of the diary had ‘bye bye’ written in large letters. “It was hard to read that,” said his father. “He galvanized the upcoming character. That was typical of Heath. He would do that. He liked to dive into his characters, but this time he really took it up a notch,” Ledger’s father said.
Heath Ledger was found unconscious on his bed on 22 January 2008 by his housekeeper.
On 6 February 2008, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York in the report said, "We have concluded that the manner of death is an accident, resulting from the abuse of prescribed medications".
For the unversed, The Dark Knight grossed over $1 billion at the box office with Ledger bagging Best Supporting Actor Oscar posthumously.