The late, great Heath Ledger would have turned 38 today. It’s hard to believe that it’s been nine years since he passed away. Let’s take a minute out of the day to remember his most iconic performances.
The Dark Knight (2008) – The movie he’ll be remembered for, and the movie he won an Oscar for. Ledger’s Joker is not only the defining performance from a superhero movie – it’s one of the most terrifying and memorable turns in the history of cinema. No matter who else dons the Joker makeup, he (or she) will always be second to this one.
I’m Not There (2007) – Ledger was part of the esteemed ensemble cast playing different personae from the career of Bob Dylan – in his case, a rising young rock star. It’s a standout performance in a movie full of them; look out for Ledger’s Knight co-star Christian Bale in the film, too.
Brokeback Mountain (2005) – The movie that brought Ledger into the mainstream and earned him his first Oscar nomination. Ledger is astonishing as the quiet, reserved cowboy who falls into a relationship with his partner (Jake Gyllenhaal); he’s the heart of the film. Looking back on it now, it’s an absolute shame this lost to Crash for Best Picture.
Ned Kelly (2003) – Ledger plays the legendary Australian outlaw in this underrated bio-pic from director Gregor Jordan. With an all-star Australian cast (Geoffrey Rush, Naomi Watts, Joel Edgerton) and Orlando Bloom as a fellow outlaw, this remains the definitive retelling of the Kelly legend. An overlooked treasure.
A Knight’s Tale (2001) – One of the more pleasantly entertaining teenage adventures of the 2000s twists the old knights-and-jousts theme, integrating plenty of contemporary style (and music) into the well-worn story. Ledger is supremely charming as the young squire William Thatcher, backed up by a sterling cast that includes Paul Bettany, Mark Addy and Shannyn Sossamon.
10 Things I Hate About You (1999) – The feature that brought Ledger teenage poster-child stardom, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. It’s a feature that’s a bit above the grade of your standard late-1990s teen movie, thanks to Ledger’s engaging turn and a wonderfully deep cast (Julia Stiles as his love interest, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, David Krumholtz).