On In Celebrities

What Killed The Joker? An Unconventional And Haunting Look At Heath Ledger's Life

The world was shocked when the 28-year-old Heath Ledger was found dead in his Manhattan apartment in the US on January 22, 2008. It's been ten years now, and he's still in our memories. When it all happened, Ledger had just finished shooting The Dark Knight, and no one could believe it when the news of his death surfaced. The autopsy reports revealed that prescribed-drug overdose took his life. Ledger won a posthumous Oscar at the 81st Academy Awards ceremony in 2009 for his excellent portrayal of the character of the joker in The Dark Knight. The film's success and the win proved that he was an actor of infinite capabilities.

In 2017 director Derik Murray dared to create a documentary on the life and art of this iconic actor, Heath Ledger.

The documentary features Ledger’s old buddy and filmmaker Matt Amato’s revelations about the mercurial actor's documentary titled, ‘I Am Heath Ledger.’The film starts by revealing that Heath was an Australian actor who moved to Hollywood to promote his film career.Initially, his friend Matt Amato was a bit reluctant to make a film on his buddy.

"Heath was very private. He didn’t even like any of that behind-the-scenes stuff, like DVD extras. Heath loved being a magician. I can just hear him — he’d be like, ‘Matt, don’t! That takes the fun out of what we do! Let’s just put on the show!"

Unknown facets 

'I Am Heath Ledger' also exhibits Ledger’s private life through home videos, right from his early years in Perth, Australia, to his final days, and interviews of people who shared a personal and professional bond with Ledger.Ledger was only 17 years old when Amato, who later co-founded a music video production company with the late actor was one of the first few people to meet Ledger on his first night in Hollywood, and it was instant bonding. It was Amato, who saw something in the young actor and handed him the script of ‘10 Things I Hate About You’.

"The day after he moved in I gave him the script of 10 Things I Hate About You, written by a friend. Which was proved to be a lucky thing," Amato said. And the rest is history!

Heath Ledger's relationship with Naomi Watts.

The documentary also features interviews of his former girlfriend Naomi Watts, filmmakers like Ang Lee and Catherine Hardwicke, and actors Emile Hirsh and Ben Mendelsohn, musician Ben Harper among others.

Despite being a private person...

Ledger had a fixation for making home movies about himself. The documentary has sequences which are contributed by actor's family, friends, and well-wishers who are determined to show his unconventional, creative and optimistic side that often goes unnoticed owing to the haunting controversy surrounding his tragic death.

He was a man with a golden heart.

The documentary also throws a spotlight on how Ledger used his stardom to help his fellow Australian actors during their days of struggle. Ledger would host actors Ben Mendelsohn, Rose Byrne, Joel Edgerton at his Los Feliz estate, even allowing them to live with him and Naomi Watts, his then-girlfriend, for weeks and months.

The documentary also reveals:

Ledger had asked musician Ben Harper to write a lullaby for his soon-to-be-born daughter.

Brokeback Mountain 

The documentary shows the relationship that Ledger shared with director Ang Lee during the filming of Brokeback Mountain. The film earned the actor his first Academy Award nomination.

Director Ang Lee says about Ledger that:

"Even as a supporting actor, he will steal the whole show. That’s the power of Heath Ledger." Whereas Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn misses his versatility when he said:

"Before Brokeback Mountain came out it would have been impossible to think of a romantic tragedy involving two gay cowboys. This is one of the biggest heartthrobs on earth taking on that character. That’s an artist."

Apart from the documentary, there's also a song that chronicles his childhood. 

'I Am Heath Ledger' also reveals how Ledger’s death inspired the Bon Iver singer Justin Vernon’s 2011 song Perth, which talks about ‘The Dark Knight’ actor’s childhood and upbringing in Australia.