Heath Ledger was considered one of the most brilliant actors of his generation. He could have become bigger than he already was but unfortunately, it was all taken away due to his death in 2008. There had been theories suggesting that he was so immersed with The Joker role for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, that it took a toll on his mental health. Now, in the documentary, Ledger’s sister, Kate, reveals that there is no truth to the Joker rumors.
Ledger died from an accidental poisoning of prescription drugs on January 22, 2008. He had just completed filming for The Dark Knight, in which he played the iconic Joker. It was the role that got him a posthumous Oscar award.
Back then, there were rumors stating that Ledger was so into his role that it triggered his insomnia, for which he was taking prescription pills. According to Heath’s sister, who was at the New York premiere for I Am Heath Ledger documentary, the rumors about Heath’s death being tied to the Joker role shocked her because if it had an effect on the actor, it was the total opposite. Kate told the Daily Telegraph that her brother actually had fun playing the character.
“Every report was coming out that he was depressed and that [the role] was taking this toll on him, and we’re going, honestly, it was the absolute opposite. It couldn’t be more wrong.”
Clearly, not a lot of people knew that Heath Ledger had “an amazing sense of humor,” as how Kate described it. She added that only people close to the actor knew about that side of his personality and that he was never depressed when he played the Joker.
Rumors about Heath Ledger’s death started when the actor himself had revealed to New York Times in 2007 that he had been sleeping only an average of two hours every night. In the documentary, it was revealed that Ledger had suffered from insomnia and even his ex, Michelle Williams, with whom he had a daughter, confirmed this in an earlier interview.
“He had an uncontrollable energy. He buzzed. He would jump out of bed. For as long as I’d known him, he had bouts with insomnia. He just had too much energy. His mind was turning, turning, turning – always turning.”
Heath was known to his friends as someone who had always had a thirst for adventure. This high energy is also what made him sleep less at night.
In 2016, Heath’s father, Kim, however, broke his silence on the death of his son by telling News.com.au that the blame should be on the actor. He had been warned by his sister not to mix prescription drugs, especially with ones that he doesn’t know about. That was the last conversation the Ledger siblings had.
I Am Heath Ledger documentary features stories from the actor’s friends and family. It also uses video shots by the actor and also features his interviews, his artwork and music videos he shot. The documentary was created to “celebrate Heath’s life and tell the story of this multifaceted artist,” according to Murray, which is in contrast to what most people are expecting. The 90-minute documentary did not dwell on Heath’s personal issues and his prescription drug use that led to his death.
Although Williams had already addressed Heath’s death years back, she chose not to participate in the documentary. Friends of Ledger who took part in the film include Ben Mendelsohn, Naomi Watts, whom he dated before Williams, and director Ang Lee.
I Am Heath Ledger is set to air on Spike TV on May 17. On May 3, the documentary will also have its limited theatrical release.
[Featured Image by Carlo Allegri/Getty Images]