January 22, 2008: the day Heath Ledger, a key interpreter of the Joker, died

Heath Ledger died at the age of 28 on January 22, 2008. Known in particular for his mythical interpretation of the Joker in The Dark Knight (2008) by Christopher Nolan, this will be his last role. The causes of his disappearance are, even today, uncertain, even if several avenues have been explored.

The actor first starred in several romantic comedies, such as Ten good reasons to dump you (1999), or casanova (2005) with Sienna Miller. But that’s the movie Brokeback Mountain (2005), where two cowboys live out their homosexuality in secret, which turned his career upside down. Heath Ledger was also the father of a daughter, born in 2005 from his relationship with actress Michelle Williams.

Causes of Heath Ledger’s death

The 28-year-old actor was found dead in his New York apartment. It was his cleaning lady and his masseuse who found him around 3 p.m., alone, in his bed, says The Sun. Medicines were also found near his body.

Two avenues are then privileged, the suicide or the accident. An investigation was launched on January 22, 2008, after the announcement of his death. It will last more than six years. The toxicology report indicates that he took six different types of drugs, which would have led to his death: “We have concluded that the type of death is an accident, resulting from the abuse of prescribed drugs”.

Heath Ledger was nursing his insomnia by taking sleeping tablets. He was also on anxiolytics. His autopsy revealed that his death was caused by a lethal mix of painkillers, anxiolytics and sleeping pills, drugs he was prescribed by prescription.

It’s hard to accept because I loved him so much and was so proud of him

A harsh reality that the father of the actor has hardly accepted. In an interview given to DailyMail Australiahe said: “It’s completely his fault and no one else’s. He looked for pills. He ingested them and put them in his system. You can’t blame someone else like that. situation. It’s hard to accept because I loved him so much and I was so proud of him.”

However, the rumors began to emerge. If the official version says that Heath Ledger died of an accidental overdose, several fans insinuate that the actor would have committed suicide. And partly because of his role as the Joker which would have marked him deeply.

The Joker, the role of his life

This role in The Dark Knight is the last of the actor. And it must be said that his interpretation of the Joker was impeccably accurate. The psychological state of the character, between madness, violence and suffering, would have required extreme preparation. Which, according to some, affected the Mental Health by Heath Ledger.

Rumors of a depression caused by its role in The Dark Knight have long been serious, and seen as a possible explanation for his death. A documentary released in 2017, titled I Am Heath Ledgergives voice to those close to the actor and offers an intimate retrospective of his life.

His entourage is formal: Heath Ledger in solid condition and above all delighted with his role. For them, at no time the Joker would have had an effect on his mental health, or in any case, not to this extent.

“He had an amazing sense of humor, and I guess only his family and friends knew that, but he was having fun. He wasn’t depressed by the Joker!” His sister said, as quoted by The Sun. “All the reports that came out said he was depressed and [le rôle] exhausted him, and we said, honestly, it was quite the opposite. It couldn’t be more wrong,” she said.

The director, Matt Amato, also recalled the importance of his documentary: “I hope it is an antidote to the many gossip that exists in the world”, targeting doubts around his death.

Posthumous Oscar

More than ten years after this role, his unique interpretation is still acclaimed and recognized as a cinematographic reference. On several occasions, Heath Ledger has been voted “Best Joker” by Internet users. For example, in a Twitter poll conducted by LADbible in 2021, the actor won 77% of the vote for his performance.

Heath Ledger died while the film was still being edited. The Dark Knight was released in theaters six months after his death. “Ledger’s performance is almost the most interesting thing in the movie. And when he’s away, The Dark Knight loses most of its energy and drive,” wrote journalist Stephen Hunter for the Washington Post.

Heath Ledger’s Joker has become a reference and has been unanimous both among spectators and critics. He won, posthumously, the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 2009.

His apartment, sanctuary of the Joker

According to information obtained by Page Six, the actor would have transformed his New York loft into a sanctuary dedicated to the Joker. Voice recordings “in high and low octaves” would also have been found, as well as laughter tests to stick the most to the psychopathic clown.

“He was studying the origins of the clowns and all the previous Jokers, like the character of Jack Nicholson and that of Cesar Romero, who was the first Joker on television”, explains a source to the magazine. “He was trying to make his role different from that of the other actors. He was even studying how to make his voice different from theirs.”

He was trying to make his role different from the other actors. He was even studying how to make his voice different from theirs.

A sort of diary, kept during the filming of Christopher Nolan’s film, was also found. “The Joker” was engraved on the front of the notebook. Inside were photos, drawings of the Joker, doodles, and more.

Before his death, the former chess champion was planning to make a feature film titled The Queen’s Gambitbased on a 1983 novel. If that means anything to you, it’s normal. The Queen’s Gambit Where The Queen’s Game in French, was adapted into a Netflix series by Scott Frank and Allan Shiach, in 2020.

January 22, 2008: the day Heath Ledger, a key interpreter of the Joker, died