"I guess that’s how death works. It doesn’t matter if we’re ready or not. It just happens."
Heath Ledger found dead in New York apartment
Updated Tue. Jan. 22 2008 10:59 PM ET
CTV.ca News Staff
The film industry is mourning the death of one of its brightest young talents. Heath Ledger, the Oscar-nominated star of the vanguard film "Brokeback Mountain," was found dead in his Manhattan apartment on Tuesday.
Police say sleeping pills were found next to him.
The 28-year-old actor was found by his housekeeper who had gone to Ledger’s bedroom to let him know his masseuse had arrived for an appointment, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne told The Associated Press. Reports indicate that Ledger was unconscious and the housekeeper and masseuse shook him and called for help when he did not respond. An autopsy is planned for Wednesday.
"We are all deeply saddened and shocked by this accident," Ledger’s publicist, Mara Buxbaum, said in a statement.
"This is an extremely difficult time for his loved ones and we are asking the media to please respect the family’s privacy and avoid speculation until the facts are known."
Ledger, who was born in Australia, began his movie career as a teenager working on independent films before moving to Los Angeles. He soon starred in the teen film "10 Things I Hate About You" and was offered other teen movie roles. But he turned them down, deciding instead to wait for more challenging projects.
He starred in a "Knight’s Tale" and in 2000 he starred alongside fellow Australian Mel Gibson in "The Patriot." He also had a prominent role in "Monster’s Ball" — starring Billy Bob Thornton and Halle Berry — in which his character commits suicide.
Ledger’s most memorable role was, perhaps, alongside Jake Gyllenhaal in "Brokeback Mountain," where he played a cowboy conflicted by his homosexuality. The role earned him critical acclaim and the admiration of gay rights activists.
On Tuesday, just hours after his death, The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, released a statement mourning his death.
"His powerful portrayal changed hearts and minds in immeasurable ways," it said.
Ledger had been romantically linked to actresses Heather Graham and Naomi Watts. On the set of "Brokeback," he met Michelle Williams — who played his wife in the film and became engaged to him in real life. The two have a daughter and lived together in Brooklyn, but they separated last year.
Ledger had just finished filming "The Dark Knight," the second part of "Batman Begins." In an interview earlier this month, director Christopher Nolan told reporters, "Heath has given an amazing performance in the role. It’s really extraordinary."