This morning, a terrible news hit me as I started off a day at work by reading my favourite blog, PITNB.

Heath Ledger is dead.

I can’t describe the initial shock and bewilderment I felt when I read the news. For a moment, I honestly thought that it was a joke but it’s nowhere near 1st April yet. To read it on PITNB only made it even more realistic cause the owner of the blog never publishes anything that he doesn’t believe it being true.

Heath Ledger is really dead, people.

According to the news, he was found dead on the afternoon of 22nd Feb 2008 in an apartment in Manhattan. At 3:31 p.m., a masseuse arrived at the apartment for an appointment with Mr. Ledger, the police said. The masseuse was let into the home by a housekeeper, who then knocked on the door of the bedroom Mr. Ledger was in. When no one answered, the housekeeper and the masseuse opened the bedroom and found Mr. Ledger naked and unconscious on a bed, with pills scattered around his body. They shook him, but he did not respond. They immediately called the authorities. The police said they did not suspect foul play and that signs pointed to a suicide. Other sources suggested the possibility of fatal drug abuse.

Heath Ledger is dead. I still find that hard to believe. The Australian actor is  was only 28 and possibly was at the peak of his career. He might not have been a big star like Tom Cruise but he was a very well-respected and award-winning actor, someone who was born a pretty boy but not willing to be simply labeled as one. Instead he spent the past few years choosing his roles carefully and acting in a wide variety of movies. He was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in “Brokeback Mountain”, which is, as I’ve said numerous times, my all-time favourite movie.

Why does such a hard-working and talented actor end up dead?

I suppose it might really be suicide. If it is, well, he wouldn’t be the first or the last actor to do so. You know what? Even Wikipedia has a list of notable people who intentionally terminated their own lives. I guess when one takes, one has to give in one way or another. If you have fame and wealth, then perhaps you need to give up your privacy, your freedom, your time and maybe even your health.

It was reported that Ledger told The New York Times in a November interview that he “stressed out a little too much” during the Bob Dylan film “I’m Not There” (2007), and had trouble sleeping while portraying the Joker in “The Dark Knight” (2007), whom he called a “psychopathic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy.”“Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night,” Ledger told the newspaper. “I couldn’t stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going.” He said he took two Ambien pills, which only worked for an hour.

It might be depression due to his inability to withdraw successfully from the roles he played. It might be depression due to his current state of life. It’s not news that he spilt up with his fiance of 2 years, Michelle Williams, who played his wife in “Brokeback Mountain” and has a 2-year-old daughter with him, last year. Whatever the reason, all I can say is that it’s not easy being an actor(ess)/singer, and it’s not all about glam and fame. There’s a dark side to it, a dark side that has proven to be capable of killing. While there are so many people out there on the streets thinking, dreaming of becoming stars (just look at all the competitions we’ve on tv), more than often I wonder how much they really understand about what they have to sacrifice.  

Remember last Aug when Owen Wilson was hospitalised due to a suspected suicide attempt? It took the whole world by surprise then because everyone knows Wilson simply as the affable, blonde man-child whom you see on the theatre screen. He never gets into trouble with the law, is on good terms with his cool actor-brothers (Luke and Andrew), is always seen with some blonde, pretty, rich and famous girl (like Kate Hudson) and always busy filming blockbuster comedies. Even his tabloids were harmless and consisted of tossing a football at the beach, riding his scooter alongside his dog, Garcia, and dating whatever impossibly beautiful woman he wanted. Yet he tried to take his own life. Why? We won’t know because he won’t tell. But whatever it is, when life looks glossy on the outside, it may mean hell for him inside.

What’s done has been done. Heath Ledger is truly gone, but he leaves behind his proud works and accomplishments, which continue to stay and showcase his talents. His last work will be the second installment of the Batman series, “The Dark Knight” which is currently in its post-production stage and will be released in July 2008 (USA). No doubt I will be catching this movie. Even though  I would want to watch it even before the news of his death spread, because I’m a Batman fan, now watching this movie will take on a new meaning. It will be watching Heath Ledger for the very last time on the big screen.

Heath Ledger, you will be remembered. May you rest in peace.