He and his older sister, Kate Ledger, are named after the two main romantic characters of the Emily Brontë novel, "Wuthering Heights".
Concentrated on drama and sports in school. When asked to choose between the two, he picked drama. Attended a private all-boys school called Guildford Grammar.
Auditioned for the part of Max on the TV show Roswell (1999). However, the show was originally developed for Fox and since he had already starred in Roar (1997), which was unsuccessful for Fox, they did not want to hire him.
Had three sisters: Catherine (Kate) Ledger, married to Nathan Buckey, and half sisters Olivia Ledger (b. 1997) and Ashleigh Bell (b. 1989).
Mother was Sally Bell née Ramshaw (daughter of John and Jackie Ramshaw) and father was Kim Ledger (son of Colin and Es Ledger). Stepfather was Roger Bell and stepmother was Emma Brown. His great-grandfather was Sir Frank Ledger, son of Edson Ledger.
Named one of People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People in 2001.
Was a part of the 1990 Kalamunda Field Hockey team. His father was president of the team from 1990-1992.
Was a men's-fashion judge at the Melbourne Cup Carnival in November 2001.
Was originally set to star in Oliver Stone's Alexander (2004) before Colin Farrell took over the role.
Was considered for the role of Kar in Bulletproof Monk (2003) but eventually turned it down. The role later went to Seann William Scott.
Was named "the new Matt Damon" in Josie and the Pussycats (2001). They now act side by side in The Brothers Grimm (2005)
Most of his wardrobe was designed by his friend Shem.
His ancestry was English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, and, from his matrilineal great-great-grandmother, Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jewish. Through his Jewish great-great-grandmother, Lillian May Solomon, Heath was also a sixth cousin, three times removed, of actor and comedian Peter Sellers, through their shared Sephardi Jewish forebears, Daniel de David de Mendoza and Esther Lopez. Through the same line, Heath was also a relative of Daniel Mendoza, who was boxing champion of England in 1792-1795.
Starred in 3 films which screened at the 2005 Venice Film Festival. They included Brokeback Mountain (2005), The Brothers Grimm (2005) and the out-of-competition Casanova (2005).
Became a father for the 1st time, at age 26, when his fiancée Michelle Williams gave birth to their daughter, Matilda Ledger (Matilda Rose Ledger), on October 28, 2005.
Was selected in the State U17 squad in field hockey and was touted as one of the up and coming young stars, but chose to pack it in and try to make a career out of acting.
Was mentored by, lived with, and was very good friends with Martin Henderson.
Invited to join AMPAS in 2006.
Was the first non-American actor to portray the Joker.
Jake Gyllenhaal and Busy Philipps are his daughter's godparents.
Had been set to star in Baz Luhrmann's pre-WWII drama Australia (2008), but backed out to play The Joker in The Dark Knight (2008).
Was one of seven godparents of Elizabeth Hurley's son Damien.
Chosen by Empire Magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Movie Stars in the world (#79) 2007.
Resided in Brooklyn, Los Angeles and Sydney.
Was found dead in his apartment at 421 Broome Street in the SoHo neighborhood in New York City at 3:26 p.m. EST by his housekeeper and a massage therapist, finding him face down and unconscious in his bed with sleeping pills on a nearby table. [January 2008]
Directed music videos for Ben Harper's song "Morning Yearning", N'fa Forster Jones' "Cause an Effect" and "Seduction is Evil", Modest Mouse's "King Rat".
Was painfully shy.
First acting role was as "Peter Pan", at age 10, at a local theater company.
Lived in Roman Way, Islington while filming his last movie ever in London in 2007.
Was friends with Russell Crowe.
Was considered for a role in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003).
Actor Daniel Day-Lewis made a dedication to him at the SAG Awards 2008. Ledger was one of Day Lewis' favorite actors.
As a child, he owned a pet kangaroo that was found by his mother.
Was good friends with Ben Harper.
He was the co-founder of record label Music Masses Co with singer Ben Harper, and directed Harper's video for the song 'Morning Yearning'.
The youngest actor to play the Joker in a Batman movie The Dark Knight (2008), as oppose to Jack Nicholson and Cesar Romero.
In 2006, took a year off from acting to raise his daughter Matilda Ledger while his fiancée at the time, Michelle Williams, worked.
On February 9, 2008, a memorial service attended by several hundred invited guests was held at Penhros College in Perth, Western Australia followed by a private wake on Cottesloe Beach with his family and friends.
After his death his body was returned to Perth, Western Australia, where his body was cremated at Fremantle Cemetery, with his ashes to be "scattered in a family plot at Karrakatta Cemetery, next to two of his grandparents.
Before appearing with Christian Bale in The Dark Knight (2008), the two of them both played incarnations of Bob Dylan in I'm Not There (2007). This makes Ledger the second Joker actor to share a role with a Batman actor. Previously, Cesar Romero shared the role of lawman John "Doc" Holliday with Adam West and Val Kilmer.
His favorite Australian bands and musicians were Spiderbait, Powderfinger, and Silverchair.
Was good friends with Jake Gyllenhaal, Joel Edgerton, Christian Bale, Joaquin Phoenix and Matt Damon.
Said in 1999 that his favorite actors and directors were Gene Kelly, Judy Garland, Bob Fosse, Stanley Kubrick, Katharine Hepburn, Jack Nicholson, Marcel Cann, Terrence Malick, Mel Gibson, and Meryl Streep. Later, he went on to co-star with Gibson; and play The Joker (previously portrayed by Nicholson) with his character was partly inspired by Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (1971); and had almost been cast in Malick's The Tree of Life (2011).
In an interview shortly before his death, he stated that his favorite role so far in his career had been his role as The Joker in The Dark Knight (2008).
Swiss actor and filmmaker Philippe Vonlanthen worked as his Body-double and stand-in on Roar (1997). Filming took place in Queensland, Australia.
Played the character of Scott Irwin in the long-running Australian soap opera Home and Away (1988) for 10 episodes in 1997. Scott was a local bad boy who took advantage of Sally Fletcher. It is said that the producers wanted to extend his stay with the show but Heath opted not to.
His Golden Globe Award win for The Dark Knight (2008) came eleven days before the first anniversary of his death.
When actress Nell Campbell moved back to her homeland of Australia, she sold her house to Ledger in 2005.
Received his Oscar-nomination for The Dark Knight (2008) on the first anniversary of his death, January 22, 2009.
The first and only actor to secure an acting nomination for a Batman film.
In both his first and final complete roles, he portrayed a clown.
The day after he died, he was supposed to meet with Steven Spielberg to explore the idea of playing Tom Hayden in a movie about the Chicago 7.
Has co-starred with a Gyllenhaal sibling in his two most acclaimed roles: as Ennis Del Mar with Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain (2005), and as the Joker with Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Dark Knight (2008).
Was awarded the 2009 Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his work as the Joker in The Dark Knight (2008). This made him the first person to win a posthumous acting Oscar in this category, and the second person to win a posthumous Oscar.
His daughter Matilda Ledger will be the recipient of his Oscar for The Dark Knight (2008) when she turns 18. Up until then the statuette will be in custody of his father Kim Ledger, mother Sally Bell and sister Kate Ledger, per Academy rules.
Very first performer to win an Oscar for acting in a comic movie-adaptation.
Was a great admirer of Johnny Depp's work. Like Depp, Ledger worked hard to avoid being typecast as a teen heartthrob early on, in the hopes of expanding his career options. Both actors enjoyed taking risky, physically unappealing roles that surprised audiences. Depp was one of the three actors who filled in for Ledger's last unfinished role after his death, in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009).
The second person to win a posthumous acting Oscar. The first was Peter Finch.
Won almost every award in which he was nominated for his performance as The Joker in The Dark Knight (2008) including the quintuple crown (a Golden Globe, BAFTA, SAG, Critics' Choice Award, and Oscar).
Is one of 15 actors to have won the Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Critics' Choice Award, Golden Globe Award and SAG Award for the same performance. The others in chronological order are Geoffrey Rush for Shine (1996), Jamie Foxx for Ray (2004), Philip Seymour Hoffman for Capote (2005), Forest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland (2006), Javier Bardem for No Country for Old Men (2007), Daniel Day-Lewis for There Will Be Blood (2007) and Lincoln (2012), Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds (2009), Colin Firth for The King's Speech (2010), Christopher Plummer for Beginners (2010), J.K. Simmons for Whiplash (2014), Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant (2015), Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017), Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour (2017), and Rami Malek for Bohemian Rhapsody (2018).
Appeared twice on the cover of GQ magazine: June '01 and February '06.
Among his hobbies were surfing, skateboarding, chess, photography, directing.
Pulled out of The Tree of Life (2011) before he died.
Did some of the stunts in his movies by himself; in The Four Feathers (2002) he leaps onto a horse at full gallop; in Brokeback Mountain (2005) he jumps off a high cliff into icy water.
Was planning to direct his first feature film based on the Walter Tevis 1983 novel "The Queen's Gambit".
Was offered the role of Peter Parker in Spider-Man (2002) which he turned down.
Was in talks to play the role of 'Llewelyn Moss' in No Country for Old Men (2007) but decided to take some time off instead.
Was encouraged by then girlfriend Naomi Watts to accept the role of Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain (2005).
Was very close with directors Terry Gilliam and Shekhar Kapur.
Was a big fan of Nick Drake. Directed and starred in a music video for Nick Drake's "Black Eyed Dog".
As a tribute, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law helped Terry Gilliam complete The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009) by taking over Ledger's unfinished role. Thus the public was able to watch his last performance. The three actors donated their salaries to his daughter.
In an interview, he admitted that he disliked his portrayal of the titular character in Casanova (2005), saying he took the wrong approach to the role.
Ang Lee offered him the role of 'Ennis Del Mar' after being impressed with his performance in Monster's Ball (2001).
Met up with Christopher Nolan to exchange ideas about how he was going to play the Joker before there was even a script for The Dark Knight (2008). He was Christopher Nolan's first and only choice for the Joker.
He directed both homemade videos made by the Joker in The Dark Knight (2008) himself.
Lived in a house in the forest while filming The Patriot (2000).
Liked to write poetry.
Was only 4 years older than Kate Mara who plays his teenage daughter in Brokeback Mountain (2005).
To get in character in Lords of Dogtown (2005) he wore some of Skip Engblom's old clothes.
In 2008, Australians in Film established the annual ''Heath Ledger Scholarship'' in his honor. Past judges include Jude Law, Rachel Griffiths, Jason Isaacs, Frances O'Connor, director Gregor Jordan and Ledger's former agent Steve Alexander.
Cousin of actor Luke Esme.
He said the most difficult aspect of his performance as The Joker was getting the voice and laugh right.
Was in a relationship with Lisa Zane, Julia Stiles, Christina Cauchi, Heather Graham, Naomi Watts, Michelle Williams, Gemma Ward.
Never attended Drama school and had no formal training when he decided to pursue an acting career.
He was five years younger than Christian Bale, making him the first actor to play The Joker who was younger than the actor playing Batman.
According to the 10th Anniversary commentary by his co-stars for 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), he and Julia Stiles began a relationship during the filming. They broke up in January 2000.
Was considered for the role of Max Rockatansky in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). In the original trilogy, Max was played by Mel Gibson, who played his father in The Patriot (2000). Tom Hardy took the role of Max in 2009. Hardy played Bane in The Dark Knight Rises (2012), the sequel to The Dark Knight (2008) in which Ledger played The Joker.
His parents, Kim Ledger and Sally Bell, and his sister Kate Ledger received his Oscar on his behalf.
In 2008, Australians in Film established the annual "Heath Ledger Scholarship" in honor of the late actor, who was an ambassador of the group. Heath's father, Kim Ledger, is the Patron of the scholarship. The first recipient was Oliver Ackland in 2009, followed by Bella Heathcote in 2010, Ryan Corr in 2011, Anna McGahan in 2012, James Mackay in 2013, Cody Fern in 2014 and Matt Levett in 2015.
Abbie Cornish dedicated her 2011 G'Day USA Excellence in Film award to him. They were co-stars in Candy (2006) [January 23, 2011].
In order to physicalize Ennis Del Mar's closed off nature in Brokeback Mountain (2005), Heath used the image of a clenched fist as inspiration.
Was friends with the Olsen sisters.
Created the character of The Joker in a hotel room in London.
Heath was not a method acting in his role as The Joker. Method acting means drawing upon ones own experiences for a part. There is no evidence he did this for that role, and he did not stay in character while filming.
It is a misconception that his performance as the Joker caused him to become addicted to pills. He had been taking different forms of sleeping drugs since his teen years and his comfort with them started much earlier. When dealing with the pressures of film set hours, he took more pills to adjust his sleep schedule.
He was descended from the Solomon family, who were prominent, early, Jewish settlers in Australia. His four times great-grandfather, Emanuel Solomon, a convict sent to Australia with his brother, was a businessperson and politician who was a Member of the South Australian House of Assembly and the South Australian Legislative Council. Heath's distant cousins include Judah Moss Solomon, a Mayor of Adelaide, and Vaiben Louis Solomon, a Premier of South Australia.
He was good friends with Joaquin Phoenix who would also play The Joker.
Timothee Chalamet has said that Heath's performance in The Dark Knight (2008) made him want to become an actor.
He initially met with Christopher Nolan about taking on the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman in Batman Begins (2005) but turned the part down. He later regretted his decision after seeing the film and immediately signed on to play The Joker.
He has appeared in one film that has been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: Brokeback Mountain (2005).
Following his untimely passing in 2008, became the youngest - i.e. most recent born - Batman villain actor to die. Succeeding Jeep Swenson.