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Remembering Heath Ledger's finest performances on the 10 year anniversary of his death


It saddens us to say that it's been 10 years since we lost Heath Ledger. The Australian actor, who won an Oscar for playing The Joker in The Dark Knight, passed away on 22nd January 2008, and tributes have been pouring in from Hollywood's elite.

Former girlfriend Naomi Watts posted the following Instagram message: "Thinking about this beautiful soul today. 10 years ago he left this world. He was a true original. Heart always on his sleeve, with the most powerful charisma, strength, humor and talent. I will never forget his gentle spirit. #heathledger @wattsupphoto."

The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan observed: "We watched him sort of develop it, with the wardrobe and the makeup, and I kind of got to be a part of that creative process, which was great fun, but on-set, there were always moments like that clapping or things he would do with his voice. His voice was so unpredictable. He created this bizarre pitch. I’ve seen a lot of people try and imitate it since. But we never quite knew if he was going to go high or if he was going to go low. You never knew what that guy was going to do, and that’s what was terrifying about him."

In honour of Heath's memory, we've decided to round up our favourite performances from him.

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

Ledger's breakout performance came in this sassy teen updating of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. As bad lad Patrick Verona, his chemistry with Julia Stiles' Kat is at the very heart of the movie. It was an early signifier of the charisma that would bloom in his later performances.

Monster's Ball (2001)

A far grittier performance came in this Deep South-set drama, playing the embittered son of Billy Bob Thornton's racist death row guard. Despite being the youngest and least experienced in the cast, which includes an Oscar-winning Halle Berry, Ledger impressively asserts himself.

A Knight's Tale (2001)

The first proper test of Ledger's leading man chops came in this anachronistic medieval comedy from director Brian Helgeland. He's appropriately swashbuckling and likeable as aspiring jouster William Thatcher, holding his own against scene-stealing support Paul Bettany and giving his all in the David Bowie-scored dance sequences.

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Ledger announced himself as an actor of serious repute with Ang Lee's feted drama. As introverted Wyoming cowboy Ennis, Ledger is a captivating presence, portraying a man uncomfortable in his own skin whose relationship with Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) flies in the face of social acceptability. It's a subtle, heartbreaking performance.

Candy (2006)

One of Ledger's overlooked roles is also one of his most raw and gruelling. Candy is a tragic story of two lovers who also happen to be drug addicts, their demons threatening to blow the relationship apart. As the anguished Dan, Ledger creates edgy chemistry with co-star Abbie Cornish (playing the eponymous Candy), powering an impressive drama that's nonetheless hard to watch.

I'm Not There (2007)

Further proof of Ledger's ability in taking on complex roles came in this surreal anti-biopic. Todd Haynes' deconstruction of music legend Bob Dylan assembles several actors to play different aspects of his persona at certain stages in his life. Ledger impresses as actor Robbie Clark, who is designed to embody the darker, less sympathetic side of Dylan's personality.

The Dark Knight (2008)

Let's face it, if you're going to name a Heath Ledger performance, this is likely the one you'd pick. Released in the wake of the actor's death, The Dark Knight won him a posthumous Oscar for his chilling, anarchic Joker. Less of a Jack Nicholson clown, more a rampaging trail of destruction embodying the anxieties of post-9/11 America, it's a performance that remains rich with both grandstanding and subtlety.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)

Perhaps not a definitive Ledger performance, but it's the one that came to act as the epitaph to a sadly curtailed career. Terry Gilliam's surreal fantasy ran into problems when Ledger died midway through filming, but there was an inventive solution: split his character into fragments, and have Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law step in. It was a remarkable last-minute save, and a tribute to the esteem with which Ledger was regarded.

What are your favourite Heath Ledger performances? Let us know @Cineworld.