Heath Ledger: 1979-2008

The Dark Knight and Brokeback Mountain actor found dead at 28.

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Heath Ledger - Kevin Mazur/Wireimage.comHeath Ledger, star of films including Brokeback Mountain, 10 Things I Hate About You, and the forthcoming The Dark Knight, was found dead this afternoon. He was 28.

According to news reports, Ledger was found at 3:26 p.m. Eastern by a masseuse who had been let into his apartment by a housekeeper. Upon discovering an unconscious and unresponsive Ledger, the housekeeper called the police while the masseuse called Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's bodyguard, a friend and an EMT. Reports cite sleeping pills (prescribed and over-the-counter) near Ledger and police say they do not suspect foul play. It is also too early to tell if Ledger's death is accidental or a suicide.

Ledger earned an Oscar nomination for his part in Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain and his upcoming appearance as the Joker in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight has been long anticipated. He was in production on the Terry Gilliam-helmed The Imaginarium Of Dr. Parnassus.

Location work on the shoot wrapped this weekend in London, with Ledger reportedly taking time off in New York before traveling to Vancouver to complete considerable effects work on stages.

From the New York Times:
Mr. Ledger, a native of Perth, Australia, won acclaim for his role as a co-star in "Brokeback Mountain" (2005). The film, based on a short story by Annie Proulx about two cowboys who fall in love, won critical acclaim. Reviewing the film in The New York Times, the critic Stephen Holden wrote, "Mr. Ledger magically and mysteriously disappears beneath the skin of his lean, sinewy character. It is a great screen performance, as good as the best of Marlon Brando and Sean Penn.

Ledger is survived by Matilda Rose, his two-year-old daughter with Michelle Williams.

Update: Heath Ledger's father has made a statement with his family confirming his son's death. "We would like to thank our friends and everyone around the world for their well wishes and kind thoughts at this time," he said. "[Heath] was a down to earth, generous, kind-hearted, life-loving and selfless individual who was extremely inspirational to many.

"Please now respect our family's need to grieve and come to terms with our loss privately."

IGN Movies was on the set of The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus last friday, and reports that Ledger seemed to be in high spirits. While they didn't speak to Ledger, his director Terry Gilliam told them, "He's the most wonderful, inventive guy - there's nothing he won't try to do ... I don't think Hollywood yet realises how extraordinary he is."

Source: New York Times, TMZ, IGN Movies

Jeff Giles, Sara Schieron, and Joe Utichi contributed to this article.