Heath Ledger has passed away this afternoon of what appears to be an apparent overdose of both prescription and over the counter sleep medications. It was reported by several news outlets that around 3:30 p.m. eastern time, Heath was found in his NYC apartment by a maid & a masseuse that had arrived for a scheduled appointment. He appeared to have been dead for several hours and an autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow. It could be several weeks before we know the exact cause of death.
Ambien was reported to be one of the pills found near the body & is a highly addictive drug. It is believed that Heath had dependency issues that remained untreated and was also suffering from anxiety and depression. In a recent interview with The New York Times it is apparent that the actor is deeply troubled by what he experienced during the filming of Batman describing his role as the Joker as “mentally & physically draining.”
“I stressed out a little too much,” Mr. Ledger said.
He tends to do that. He is here in London filming the latest episode of the “Batman”franchise, “The Dark Knight.” (Mr. Bale, as it happens, plays Batman; Mr. Ledger plays the Joker.) It is a physically and mentally draining role — his Joker is a “psychopathic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy” he said cheerfully — and, as often happens when he throws himself into a part, he is not sleeping much.
“Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night,” he said. “I couldn’t stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going.” One night he took an Ambien, which failed to work. He took a second one and fell into a stupor, only to wake up an hour later, his mind still racing.
Even as he spoke, Mr. Ledger was hard-pressed to keep still. He got up and poured more coffee. He stepped outside into the courtyard and smoked a cigarette. He shook his hair out from under its hood, put a rubber band around it, took out the rubber band, put on a hat, took off the hat, put the hood back up. He went outside and had another cigarette. Polite and charming, he nonetheless gave off the sense that the last thing he wanted to do was delve deep into himself for public consumption. “It can be a little distressing to have to over intellectualize yourself,” is how he put it, a little apologetically.
Michelle Williams Heath’s ex-fiance’ and mother two their two year old daughter Matilda, is said to be devastated and on a plane to New York.
DListed posted these condolences from other celebrities –
“I had such great hope for him. He was just taking off and to lose his life at such a young age is a tragic loss. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.” – Mel Gibson
“What a tragedy. My heart goes out to his family.” – Nicole Kidman
“Heath Ledger was a courageous actor, and a great soul. He gave us the gift of sharing his fearless and beautiful love – of his craft, and of all who worked with him – for which all of us will be eternally grateful.” – Focus Features, producers of Brokeback Mountain
“The studio is stunned and devastated by this tragic news. The entertainment community has lost an enormous talent. Heath was a brilliant actor and an exceptional person. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.” – Warner Bros., producers of The Dark Night
“It was with great sadness that I have learned of the passing of Heath Ledger. It is tragic that we have lost one of our nation’s finest actors in the prime of his life. Heath Ledger’s diverse and challenging roles will be remembered as some of the great performances by an Australian actor.” – Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia
This is an unimaginable tragedy. Heath was a true artist, a deeply sensitive man, an explorer, gifted and wise beyond his years. There is no finer person on this earth.” – Todd Haynes, director of I’m Not There