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43 Unknown Facts About Heath Ledger – The Joker From ‘The Dark Knight’

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Heath Ledger was an Australian actor and director, who gained worldwide popularity through his roles as Ennis Del Mar in “Brokeback Mountain,” and the Joker in “The Dark Knight.” Here are 43 facts about the Oscar winning actor:

Heath Ledger, nominee Best Actor in a Leading Role for 'Brokeback Mountain'
(Photo : Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc) Heath Ledger, nominee Best Actor in a Leading Role for 'Brokeback Mountain'
  1. He is the first and the only actor to be nominated for the performance as Joker. He is also the first and the only actor to be nominated for acting skills from a Batman movie.
  2. He almost broke the nose of Jake Gyllenhaal during a kissing scene in the movie “Brokeback Mountain” in 2005.
  3. He was born as Heathcliff Andrew Ledger on 4 April 1979 in Perth, Western Australia to Sally Ledger, a French teacher and Kim Ledger, a race car driver.
  4. His inspiration for acting was his older sister Kate Ledger with whom he grew close after their parent’s divorce in 1990. His sister is also an actor who later turned publicist.
  5. He was an avid chess player having won junior chess championship in Western Australia at the age of 10. He was to perform and direct a chess movie based on the novel “The Queen’s Gambit” before his death.
    Heath Ledger during 2005 Venice Film Festival - 'The Brothers Grimm' Photocall at Casino Palace in Venice, Italy.
    (Photo : Niki Nikolova/FilmMagic) Heath Ledger during 2005 Venice Film Festival - 'The Brothers Grimm' Photocall at Casino Palace in Venice, Italy.
  6. Sir Michael Cain did not meet Ledger until on the sets of “The Dark Knight” in 2008. When ledger performed as Joker, he was in such a fright that he forgot his lines.
  7. He won a total of 32 Best Supporting Actor awards posthumously for his performance as Joker which include Oscar, Golden Globe, SAG, BAFTA and Critics Choice Award.
  8. His first acting experience started at Guildford Grammar School at the age of 10. He played the character Peter Pan in the drama of the same name.
  9. He met his wife Michelle Williams on the sets of “Brokeback Mountain” and they fell in love. She even gave birth to their kid before the film premiered.
  10. He won Best Actor award at both New York Film Critics Circle and San Francisco Film Critics Circle for his performance in “Brokeback Mountain.” He was also nominated for Best Actor at the Golden Globe and the Oscars.
    Heath Ledger during The Cinema Society and Cole Haan Host a Screening of 'Candy' - Inside Arrivals at Tribeca Grand Hotel Grand Screening Room at 2 Avenue of The Amer in New York City, New York, United States.
    (Photo : Sylvain Gaboury/FilmMagic) Heath Ledger during The Cinema Society and Cole Haan Host a Screening of 'Candy' - Inside Arrivals at Tribeca Grand Hotel Grand Screening Room at 2 Avenue of The Amer in New York City, New York, United States.
  11. He made his acting debut in 1992 with “Clowning Around”. It was initially a 3 hour movie which was later changed into a miniseries.
  12. He made his feature film debut with “Blackrock” in 1997 playing the character Toby. This Australian movie is based on a true story.
  13. During an interview in November 2007 he admitted that the roles in “I’m Not there” and “The Dark knight” had taken a toll on him resulting in sleeping issues stating, “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.”
  14. He had designed the look of the “Joker” himself with the help of some white clown makeup and cosmetics from a drug store. Once approved, the makeup artists were responsible for replicating it for the entire production.
  15. His first American movie was “10 Things I Hate About you” in 1999. He developed a relationship with co star Julia Stiles. They broke up in January 2000.
    Heath Ledger during 'Awake and Sing!' Opening Night - After Party at Marriott Marquis Ballroom in New York City, New York, United States.
    (Photo : Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic) Heath Ledger during 'Awake and Sing!' Opening Night - After Party at Marriott Marquis Ballroom in New York City, New York, United States.
  16. He was cast in the movie “Candy” in 2006 as a man who is obsessed with a woman and heroin both having the name candy. In real life he died of accidental prescription drug overdose.
  17. He has portrayed variety of roles that are different from one another. “I feel like I am wasting my time if I repeat myself. I feel the same thing about everything I do. The day I say, 'It's good' is the day I should start doing something else,” was his response to choosing different roles.
  18. When asked if he had any fear in playing a gay man in “Brokeback Mountain” in an interview, he replied that he wasn’t afraid but was immature to do justice to the role.
  19. The last line spoken by Ledger in his last movie “”The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” in 2009 was “Don’t shoot the messenger”.
  20. He played the supporting role of Gabriel Martin in the movie “The Patriot” in 2000. He performed his own stunts in the movie.
  21. In the movie “Monster’s Ball” in 2001 he plays the character Sonny Grotowski, son of Hank Grotowski. Initially the role went Wes Bentley who pulled out at the last minute.

  22. To prepare for the role of Joker, Ledger hid himself in a motel for six weeks and developed the sadistic laughing sound and the joker’s voice. He made sure his joker was no where related to Nicholson’s from the 1989 movie.
  23. In 2004 Australian press reported that Ledger or one of his family members spat at the journalists on the sets of “Candy”, which he denied. He and his wife were sprayed with water pistols on the red carpet of “Brokeback Mountain” in retaliation.
  24. About his portrayal of Ned Kelly in the movie of the same name in 2003 he said, “It was quite eerie actually ... we're the same height and the same body weight. He was skinny 'cause he was starving; I'm skinny 'cause I don't go to the gym." He fit perfectly into the original iron armor used by Kelly.
  25. In January 2011 in a 575 seat theatre “Heath Ledger Theatre” was opened in his honor in his hometown of Perth. His Joker costume and his Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor were on display.
  26. Michelle Williams asked both the male lead actors in “Brokeback Mountain” to intensify their kissing scene so that she can prepare for the role as wife of Ledger onscreen who finds her husband having an affair with another man.
    Heath Ledger during Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi and Gina Philips Host a Charity Event to Help Launch a Self-Sustaining FXB Village in Uganda at Chateau Marmont in Hollywood, California, United States.
    (Photo : Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic) Heath Ledger during Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi and Gina Philips Host a Charity Event to Help Launch a Self-Sustaining FXB Village in Uganda at Chateau Marmont in Hollywood, California, United States.
  27. In the movie “A knight’s Tale”, Ledger and director Brian Helgeland were demonstrating a jousting move when he knocked out the front teeth of the director with a broomstick. It took several months to heal.
  28. After his death prior to the release of “The Dark Knight”, the marketing campaign of the movie which was focused on the character of the Joker had to be altered.
  29. Comparing about Ledger’s performance to that of Jack Nicholson as Joker, Sir Michael Caine said, “Jack was like a clown figure, benign but wicked, maybe a killer old uncle. He could be funny and make you laugh. Heath's gone in a completely different direction to Jack; he's like a really scary psychopath. He's a lovely guy and his Joker is going to be a hell of a revelation in this picture.”
  30. The line “Don’t Shoot the Messenger” in “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” was improvised by Ledger as he did most of the comedic lines. Johnny Depp who later completed Ledger’s role suggested this same line without knowing that it was already spoken by late actor.
  31. He was uncertain about the role in “Brokeback Mountain” when he was offered it. However his then girlfriend Naomi Watts encouraged him to take up the role when they both read the script.
  32. He played the character Jacob Grimm in 2005 movie “The Brothers Grimm”. Initially he and his costar Matt Damon were cast in opposite roles, but they switched it.
    Heath Ledger during 'Rescue Dawn' New York City Premiere - Arrivals at Dolby Screening Room at 1350 Avenue of the Americas in New York City, New York, United States.
    (Photo : Sylvain Gaboury/FilmMagic) Heath Ledger during 'Rescue Dawn' New York City Premiere - Arrivals at Dolby Screening Room at 1350 Avenue of the Americas in New York City, New York, United States.
  33. After a seven month controversy over Ledger’s will filed on February 2008, his father Kim Ledger announced on September 2008 that the family has agreed to give US$16.3 million to Ledger’s daughter Matilda Rose.
  34. The fake batman video footage in “The Dark Night” was directed by Ledger himself under the supervision of the director. Christopher Nolan thought Ledger did a fantastic job and trusted him with another video footage in that movie.
  35. On 23 February 2008 he received 2007 Independent Spirit Robert Altman Award posthumously with the entire cast and crew along with the director for the portrayal of Bob Dylan in 2007 movie “I’m Not There”.
  36. Gyllenhaal and Ledger both practiced kissing during their rehearsal so that their kissing scenes look more authentic and realistic as possible during the principle photography of “Brokeback Mountain.”
  37. The beginning scene in “A Knight’s Tale” where “We Will Rock You” song is played it was actually footage of the Ledger’s stunt double knocked out during a jousting. They used it for the introduction.

  38. While presenting “Brokeback Mountain” as a nominee for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture he giggled on the stage of Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2005. It became a controversy after Los Angeles Times reported it as a gay spoof.
  39. The Hospital explosion scene in “The Dark Knight” has a pause in between which was scripted but the reaction of Ledger was not scripted.
  40. He had relationships with actresses like Heather Graham, Lisa Zane and Naomi Watts before marrying Williams in 2004. They got divorced in September 2007.
  41. In January 2011 the supermodel Gemma Ward stated that Ledger had been dating her since November 2007 and both the families had spent the Christmas together in Perth.
    Heath Ledger shortly before being squirted by photographers with water pistols during the red carpet walk at the Sydney premiere of Brokeback Mountain at Cinema Paris.
    (Photo : Chris Ivin/WireImage) Heath Ledger shortly before being squirted by photographers with water pistols during the red carpet walk at the Sydney premiere of Brokeback Mountain at Cinema Paris.
  42. He was found unconscious in his bed on 22 January 2008 in his fourth floor apartment in SoHo. The cause was reported to be intoxication by combined effort of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine.
  43. In 2007 he had expressed his desire to direct a movie based on Nick Drake who died at the age of 26 due to an overdose of antidepressant.

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