IT has been 10 years since the world lost Australian star Heath Ledger.
On January 22, 2008, the actor was found dead in his Manhattan apartment after accidentally overdosing on a powerful mix of prescription drugs, including narcotic painkillers, anti-anxiety pills and sleep medication.
The 28-year-old father of then two-year-old Matilda had been battling chronic insomnia, pneumonia and exhaustion.
Since his death, his heartbroken family helped set up Scriptwise, a non-profit foundation in Australia designed to educate the public about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs.
Ledger famously despised Hollywood’s manufactured roles and instead took established characters like Batman villain The Joker and made them his own.
A year after his death Ledger won the best supporting actor Oscar for his stellar performance as The Joker in The Dark Knight.
He played a drug addict in the Australian film Candy, Bob Dylan in I’m Not There and the New York Times compared him to a young Marlon Brando for his tortured performance as a gay ranch hand in Brokeback Mountain.
His family remember him as a generous soul with an Aussie larrikin spirit who had a deep love for his daughter Matilda.
Ten years after his death, his legacy of generosity lives on through the Heath Ledger Scholarship which was set up to reflect Ledger’s love of helping out fellow Aussies.
The scholarship, organised by Los Angeles-based organisation Australians in Film and supported by Australia’s biggest stars, is designed to give young talent a helping hand to make it in Hollywood.
Ledger will again be honoured at the G’Day USA gala in LA on January 27.
Irish actor Colin Farrell will present the honour to Ledger’s family.