January 22, 2019, marked the 11th anniversary of iconic Australian actor Heath Ledger’s tragic death. Today, on April 4, 2019, the actor would have celebrated his 40th birthday.
Perth-born Heath was thrust into the spotlight in the 1999 teen Shakespeare adaptation 10 Things I Hate About You, and the actor went on to star in many critically acclaimed films like The Patriot, Brokeback Mountain and The Dark Knight.
Heath tragically passed away in New York in 2008 from a prescription drug overdose. He left behind a 2-and-a-half year-old daughter, Matilda, and ex-partner Michelle Williams who he had split with in 2007.
To commemorate the acting legend, let’s look back at his memorable on-screen characters.
10 Things I Hate About You (1999): In this cult-classic adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The Shrew, Heath played rebellious teen Patrick. He gets paid off by Cameron (Joseph Gordon Levitt) to take Kat (Julia Stiles) out on a date so that he can go on one with her younger sister. It was Heath’s cheeky smile and boyish charm that won everyone over – and put him on the Hollywood map.
10 Things I Hate About You prom scene
The Patriot (2000): Starring alongside Mel Gibson in a blockbuster war film was a slam dunk for Heath. He starred as Mel’s son who enlists in the army to defend America against the British.
A Knight’s Tale (2001): In his first lead role, Heath was a young peasant named William who pretended to be his deceased master in jousting battles in order to become a knight. Heath went on to star in a lot of period films – we bet he had a love for the costumes!
Ned Kelly (2003): Alongside Orlando Bloom, Naomi Watts and Geoffrey Rush, Heath was Australia’s most notorious outlaw, Ned Kelly. His performance of the bearded bush ranger was incredible.
Brokeback Mountain (2005): The heart-wrenching love story saw Heath play ranch hand Ennis who kisses rodeo cowboy Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) on a drunken night in Brokeback Mountain, Wyoming. What ensues is a tortured love affair spanning two decades as both men marry other women while keeping up their sporadic affair.
Lords of Dogtown (2005): Based on the synonymous Z-Boys, a group of skateboarders raised on the streets of Dogtown in Santa Monica, the story looks at their pioneering of new skate styles. Heath’s character Skip is a slightly rough-around-the-edges board designer, well known for his infamous surf shop and forming the Z-Boys skate team.
Casanova (2005): The 18th century ladies man was an iconic role for Heath, truly solidifying his heartthrob status. In the film, Casanova becomes engaged to a respectable young woman named Victoria, after his notorious promiscuity threatens to have him exiled. But when he falls in love with young feminist writer, Francesca, he finds himself in more trouble than ever.
Candy (2006): Heath kept his Aussie accent for his role as Dan in this tale of love and addiction. The dark indie film follows the poet’s relationship with Candy, a bohemian art student, and the spiralling effect of their heroin use as they drift between love, oblivion, self-destruction and despair.
The Dark Knight (2008): Heath’s most revered role was Gotham City’s villain, the Joker. In preparing for the role, it’s reported that Heath isolated himself in a hotel room to develop the sinister traits of the costumed murderer.