Our rumor, sadly, turned out to be true: Australian screen actor Heath Ledger is dead. It is unclear at this juncture whether Ledger’s death was a suicide or the result of an accidental overdose of pills; an autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow. He was 28.
The Perth native rose to prominence as a teen heartthrob in such commercially successful films as Ten Things I Hate About You and A Knight’s Tale, but was best known for his role in Ang Lee’s‘s 2005 art house classic Brokeback Mountain. Ledger, who played a gay cowboy who falls in love with a gay cowboy played by Jake Gyllenhaal, garnered a Best Actor Oscar nod for his performance; The New York Times film critic Stephen Holden called it “a great screen performance, as good as the best of Marlon Brando and Sean Penn.”
Last year, Ledger, who had previously dated actresses Naomi Watts and Heather Graham, ended a three-year relationship with Michelle Williams, whom he met on the set of Brokeback Mountain. The couple had a daughter, Matilda Rose, in 2005, and lived in a brownstone in the Brooklyn outpost of Boerum Hill until the split. Despite frequent run-ins with paparazzi, Ledger and Williams were reportedly well-liked in Brooklyn, a rarity for celebrities of their status. Most recently, Ledger had been linked to fellow Aussie, model Gemma Ward. His reputation as a man about town was well-earned.
Apartments in the Broome Street building where Ledger’s body was found by a masseuse rent for $22,000 a month. According to a police spokesperson, the apartment was owned by Mary-Kate Olsen, though TMZ maintains that this was not the case. A source tells Radar that Olsen lives in an apartment on Mercer Street, but that Olsen may have been renting the space to Ledger. Daughter Matilda is now two.