Twelve years ago this week, Hollywood lost one of its best.
On the afternoon of January 22, 2008, Heath Ledger died from an accidental drug overdose in his New York apartment. He was just 28 years old.
In the decade since his death, the legend of the actor’s extraordinary talent and one-of-a-kind personality has lived on.
In 2018, his co-star and friend, Jake Gyllenhaal, shared a story that speaks volumes about Ledger’s character.
As he explained to the magazine, before they starred in Brokeback Mountain together, both Gyllenhaal and Ledger were vying for the lead role in Moulin Rouge.
The role ended up going to Ewan McGregor.
“We would be shuffled in and out of rooms. They would literally put me in a room and lock the door and Heath would come in and then Heath would be shuffled through the door. I never saw him,” Gyllenhaal explained.
“When Ewan was cast, I finally met Heath and we sort of became friends before Brokeback Mountain, based on our mutual frustration.
“When Brokeback Mountain came out and it got all the attention it did, I remember, a few months later, Heath called me and he was like, [affects Ledger impersonation] ‘Hey mate, I got some news for you.’ I said, ‘What?’ He said, ‘Baz just offered me his next movie. I just wanted you to know, I f***ing turned it down!’ … So that was how much Heath loved me, you know’.”
This is not the first time someone has shared a touching story about Ledger’s great love for his family and friends and his immense generosity.
It was on the set of Brokeback Mountain that Ledger met Michelle Williams. They would later date and welcome into the world a daughter who they named Matilda.