January 2008 brought about the tragic news of the incredible actor, Heath Ledger’s, death. Did his role as The Joker play a vital part in his passing? Does this shine light on the limits the entertainment industry pushes its actors and artists to? Ledger passed at age 28 of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs as well as sleeping pills. The New York medical examiner had this to say about the actor’s death: “Mr. Heath Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam, and doxylamine. We have concluded that the manner of death is accident, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications.”

It was no secret that Ledger had difficulty sleeping after his grueling roles in the films “I’m Not There” and “The Dark Knight.” While his family and friends had nothing but wonderful things to say about Heath following his death, fans of his work were left questioning if his roles pushed his limits, ultimately leading to his overdose. The relationship between the industry and the consumer is ultimately changing and consumers fail to realize the truth behind the scenes of their entertainment. Many artists, actors, and members of entertainment industries struggle with various psychological and even physical disorders much like the common consumer. Artists and stars set these unrealistic standards in their work that the common consumer is gullible to believe and follow.

It is reported that Ledger kept a diary of how he took on the role of the Joker and fully committed to his character. The diary reveals intimate details of how the actor locked himself in his hotel room for a month in order to sink into the dark and psychotic mental state of the Joker. Heath’s father, Kim Ledger, took part in a documentary called “Too Young To Die” where he flips through pages of his son’s diary and confirms that he had thrown himself into a “self-imposed exile to dig into the Joker’s twisted grey matter.”

Ledger took his role very seriously and was dedicated to bringing the Joker character to life, sociopathic tendencies and all. 10 years later and Ledger’s movies are still widely renowned and his moral character outside of acting is still being preserved by those who loved him. His phenomenal performance as the Joker earned him numerous awards the year after his passing.

His family wants to remember Heath as a loving, caring and humorous man who took pride in his work. His sister, Kate Ledger, recalls her last conversation with her brother as her warning him not to mix his prescribed drugs that he knew little about. The beloved late actor will live on through the legacy he left behind as well as through his young daughter, Matilda Ledger.

Ledger’s death caused by accidental overdose. (2008, February 6). Retrieved September 4, 2018, from www.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/Movies/02/06/heath.ledger/

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Anna Grzybowski

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