Haunting Facts About Heath Ledger, The Modern James Dean

Heath Ledger was one of the most talented actors of his generation, and he was gone far too soon. Here, we delve into the secrets of his life—and his death.

Heath Ledger Facts

1. He Was Tragic

Probably no modern actor is more deserving of comparisons to James Dean than Heath Ledger. From his brooding roles to his dark personal secrets and utterly tragic end, Ledger lived life with a burning intensity that flamed out far too fast. Yet as brightly as he shone, there are still enduring mysteries about the circumstances of his passing. Let’s start at the beginning.

Heath Ledger at CANDY Premiere wearing red shirt and black suit - 2006

Everett Collection , Shutterstock

2. He Did Anything For Acting

Growing up in Perth, Australia, Heath Ledger had to make far more sacrifices than people know for his dream. When he was just 16, he graduated school early and drove clear across Australia to live in Sydney and start work as an actor. For years, he played small parts in television dramas—but when his break came, it was the big one.

Heath Ledger at young age with long hair wearing t shirt and smiling to the camera - 1997

Featureflash Photo Agency , Shutterstock

3. He Was A Teenage Heartthrob

In 1999, when he was just 20 years old, Ledger made a name for himself in an unforgettable movie. He starred in 10 Things I Hate About You, an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, as the alluring and elusive Patrick opposite Julia Stiles’ uptight and wry Kat. The film rocketed him to fame in America…only, there are still one huge thing people don’t know about his time on set.

Screenshot: Heath Ledger with long hair wearing shirt - from 10 Things I Hate About You (1997)

Touchstone Pictures , 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)