The actor Heath Ledger
was found dead this afternoon in an apartment in Manhattan, according to the New York City police. Signs pointed to a suicide or an accidental overdose, police sources said. Mr. Ledger was 28.
At 3:31 p.m., according to the police, a masseuse arrived at the fourth-floor apartment of the building, at 421 Broome Street, between Crosby and Lafayette Streets in SoHo, for an appointment with Mr. Ledger. The masseuse was let in to 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 sleeping pills — both prescription medication and nonprescription — on a night table. They moved his body to the floor and attempted to revive him, but he did not respond. They immediately called the authorities.
The police said they did not suspect foul play. Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the office of the city’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Charles S. Hirsch
, said that employees of the office were at the apartment and that an autopsy would be conducted on Wednesday. Around 6:30 p.m., city workers rolled Mr. Ledger’s body, which was in a black body bag on a stretcher, out of the building.
Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s deputy commissioner for public information, initially said that the apartment was owned by the actress Mary-Kate Olsen
, but later reversed himself and said that was not the case.
A representative of Ms. Olsen said that the apartment did not belong to the actress. “It is not her apartment,” the representative, Annette Wolf, a publicist for Ms. Olsen, said in a phone interview. “She does not own the apartment. She has never owned the apartment. She and her sister have an apartment in New York City but they are not in this building.”
Heathcliff Andrew Ledger was born April 4, 1979 to Sally Ledger, a French teacher, and Kim Ledger, an engineer. Named after the main characters of Emily Brontė’s “Wuthering Heights.” He and his older sister, Katherine, grew up in Perth, Australia; his parents were divorced when he was about 10. As a student, he joined a local theater company and appeared in a production of “Peter Pan,” which led to his being cast in children’s television programs.
Mr. Ledger’s first Hollywood film was the teenage romantic comedy “10 Things I Hate About You”
(1999). He later appeared in romantic-hero roles in films like “A Knight’s Tale”
(2001) and “Casanova”
But the role for which Mr. Ledger was probably best known by American audiences was 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.” Mr. Ledger was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor in January 2006.
Mr. Ledger met the actress Michelle Williams while filming ‘’Brokeback Mountain.” The two actors fell into a romance and moved to Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, where their comings and goings were widely noted
by the celebrity press. They had a daughter, Matilda Rose, who was born on Oct. 28, 2005. The couple separated last year.
In an interview in London for an article published in November
, Mr. Ledger told The New York Times, ‘’I feel like I’m wasting time if I repeat myself.” He said in the interview that he was not proud of his latest role, in Todd Haynes’s “I’m Not There,” in which Mr. Ledger was one of a half-dozen actors depicting the musician Bob Dylan. ‘’I feel the same way about everything I do. The day I say, ‘It’s good’ is the day I should start doing something else,” he said in the interview.
Mr. Ledger had been cast as The Joker in the latest Batman installment, “The Dark Knight,”
set to be released this summer.