A Look Back At Heath Ledger’s Most Memorable Roles
Celebrating the characters he brought to life
Ten years ago, the world woke up to news of Heath Ledger’s death. His passing was clouded in mystery, surprise and a little bit of judgement. But despite what has been proven and what hasn’t, there are two particular things that no one can throw doubt on: His talent and dedication to his craft.
But we’re not here to mourn his death; we’re here to celebrate what he so generously left behind.
10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
In this modern telling of The Taming Of The Shrew, Health Ledger neatly put together fun, funny, broody and mysterious in a package we all learned to call Patrick Verona. He was witty every time the opportunity presented itself, hard-headed when necessary and completely sweet when he wanted to be. He had every teenage girl in the 90s falling in love with him by the opening line of Let Me Love You.
The Patriot (2000)
It may have just been a supporting role, but Ledger’s portrayal of Gabriel Martin helped make The Patriot as iconic as it is. Many consider it to be the role that helped solidify Ledger’s name in Hollywood—it did, after all, give him screen time with Mel Gibson. But it wasn’t the names he worked with in the film that helped put Ledger on the map. It was, instead, the meaningful looks he gave in split-second scenes, the knowing smiles he exchanged and the speeches he gave with passion, want and determination.
A Knight’s Tale (2001)
In a classic tale of an underdog overcoming all obstacles, Ledger gave breath to one William Thatcher. It was a macho role that could arguably have been two-dimensional, but the then 22-year-old actor completely steered it in a different direction. He gave us tired yet determined, focused yet fun and strong yet remarkably sensitive.
Ennis Del Mar
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Ledger was a spectacular leading man, but his portrayal of Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain proved to the world that he didn’t need a woman to play his on-screen partner. Even against an equally moving and equally handsome Jake Gyllenhaal, he held his own and gave us one of the most complicated characters in modern movie history.
Can anyone else still hear the break in Ledger’s voice when he confronted Gyllenhaal’s Jack Twist, saying: Then why don’t you? Why don’t you just let me be, huh? It’s because of you, Jack, that I’m like this. I’m nothing; I’m nowhere.
The Dark Knight (2008)
Then came the role that many blamed for Ledger’s death. Taking on The Joker is no small feat and veteran Jack Nicholson even warned the younger actor against taking the role. Despite this, however, Ledger took the character to heart and suffered for his craft. In the end, we were left with a performance that shattered everything before it and will forever be the standard to anyone that dare follows.
Ledger’s career was not as long as his peers’, but it is still one of the biggest success stories in the industry. And while we’ll never see new work from him again, we know that the body of work he left behind will forever keep him relevant.
Catch your favorite Health Ledger films on HOOQ with Globe.