After turning in a performance as The Joker in director Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins sequel, The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger was found dead in a New York apartment today. The Australian actor, who earned an Oscar nomination for his role in Brokeback Mountain, was 28 years old. His death was possibly drug-related. According to The Associated Press, Ledger was found 3:26 p.m. when a housekeeper came to let him know that his masseuse had arrived to the Manhattan apartment believed to be his home.
Ledger first gained notoriety in the 1999 high school comedy 10 Things I Hate About You, and solidified his standing as a teen heartthrob with his role in the cheeky period film A Knight’s Tale. The gritty 2001 drama Monster’s Ball served as his passport to more serious roles. Even his portrayal of The Joker is much darker than any we’ve seen on screen. Warner Bros. may have to alter its marketing approach a bit, considering a lot of it prominently features Ledger in arch-villain mode.
The Dark Knight is slated to hit theaters on July 18. Ledger was next set to star opposite Christopher Plummer, Tom Waits and Verne Troyer in writer/director Terry Gilliam’s fantasy pic The Imaginarium of of Doctor Parnassus. He previously worked with Gilliam on the 2005 box-office flop The Brothers Grimm.