Heath Ledger in photos 1979 – 2008

Here are photos of Ledger’s well-documented life in chronological order from newest to oldest. RIP Heath, we hardly knew you.

From 2007

From 2006

From 2005 and earlier

When I first read this story via e-mail I thought it was a joke, like one of those fake press releases that says some child actor you haven’t heard of in years has died in an accident. I was like “Oh yeah, the masseuse found him,” and I e-mailed Vera at I’m Not Obsessed that the article she sent had to be fake, because I just wouldn’t believe it. Except in this case it wasn’t someone unknown, it was Heath and the story was all too real.

We haven’t covered Ledger favorably in the past because he was a guy who shunned photographers, generally looked grumpy and was portrayed as a bit of a cad after his split with Michelle Williams. He seemed like he was a hipster Hollywood star who perfected the disheveled look and chased skirts. Maybe Ledger died of an accidental overdose of whatever medication he was taking to help him sleep, or maybe this was something else and we’ll soon hear about it. His family denies that he committed suicide and initial impressions point to an accident. TMZ reports that he had pneumonia at the time of his death, and we’ll have to wait to see if there are more details.

However Ledger died, there was undoubtedly much more to this guy than we saw. He wasn’t just a grumpy star who wasn’t into appearances, he was a person with interests and fears and a father who wanted to protect his daughter. There may have been a deep shyness behind his reluctance to accept the scrutiny that comes with being famous.

There was an incident at the Sydney premiere of Brokeback Mountain in which paparazzi squirted Heath and Michelle with water pistols. It was thought at first that Heath wasn’t too bothered by it, but his father later revealed that Heath was distraught and cried about it that night. He also asked his father to sell his home and decided to move out of his native Australia as a direct result. We blasted Heath for being a “crybaby,” but a fan really schooled us on how Heath was the victim of incredible harassment by those same paparazzi, who would camp outside his house and taunt him night and day. She also said that despite his persona Heath had a reputation in the industry of just being shy and fearful of public events:

Do you know that the Sydney paparazzi slept in his bushes and behind his bar-b-que to try to sneak pictures into his house? Every night! Do you know that they parked at the end of his driveway and waited for him to leave his home and followed him & Michelle everywhere they went? One even interruped a scene on the set of Candy, and then menacingly whispered, “See you at home, Heath.”

How would you feel? Do you really think that in order to be an actor a person has to be subjected to this? Where’s the line?

How much would it take for you to flip off someone who harrassed you daily?

At some point the stress builds up and you have to let it out. He cried. I don’t think that’s anything to be ashamed of. It doesn’t make him a “girl”. It makes him human.

Heath’s father didn’t tell anything Heath hadn’t admitted already. He had said in an earlier interview that he broke down when he got home. Extreme stress, built up over time can do that to a person. Not just being squirted by a water gun, but the constant harrassment and viciousness. That was just the final straw, and he had to let it out.

None of us can understand how much pressure and stress they had been putting on him and how long it had been going on. How many lies had been printed and how long he had kept quiet and not defended himself? He’s only now beginning to speak out.

Heath is a very gentle and private person. He doesn’t have an ego. Industry friends who know him tell me that he’s extremely shy. Sometimes people think he’s being aloof; premieres are a nightmare for him, and he’s uncomfortable being approached by strangers, but he doesn’t have an ego. He’s not ashamed to admit he cried. I think it’s admirable.

He wants to act. He likes the work. It’s the acting part he loves. And why should he have to give that up, just because some photographers lack common decency and manners.

[Comment from Phyllis of the now-down HeathHeathens.com]

Heath personally wrote a letter to the NY Post after they published a blurb in the Page Six section in November, 2005 revealing the exact location of his new brownstone with Michelle and daughter Matilda. He denied the story that they were rude to any neighbors and admonished the paper in a measured tone, saying that “Page Six’s revealing our whereabouts could possibly put our child in danger.”

Ledger had plenty of reason to be annoyed with the paparazzi and media based on his experience. It seems he couldn’t even escape them in death. There are already plenty of photos and video of his covered body being taken out to a waiting ambulance.

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