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Last Updated: Monday, 30 January 2006, 09:13 GMT
Heath Ledger's remarkable year
Heath Ledger

Heath Ledger has made 2005 his breakthrough year and has earned a best actor Oscar nomination for Brokeback Mountain.

Roles in high-profile films last year such as The Brothers Grimm, Casanova and Brokeback have fixed Ledger firmly on the Hollywood radar.

He began his career at the age of 17 when he left western Australia for Sydney and landed his first real acting job in the low-budget movie Blackrock.

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TV roles followed, including a stint as a surfer in Home and Away - a rite-of-passage for any aspiring Australian actor.

But it was the in-your-face Australian crime drama Two Hands, in which Ledger played a strip-club bouncer, that gave him the leg-up he needed.

Ledger, 26, had already relocated to Los Angeles but had so far failed to land an American role when Australian director Gregor Jordan auditioned him for the part.

Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Casanova (2005)
The Brothers Grimm (2005)
Lords of Dogtown (2005)
Candy (2005)
The Order (2003)
Ned Kelly (2003)
The Four Feathers (2002)
Monster's Ball (2001)
A Knight's Tale (2001)
The Patriot (2000)

The film was well received and helped land Ledger the lead in teen movie 10 Things I hate About You, with Julia Stiles - a contemporary remake of the classic Shakespeare play The Taming of the Shrew.

Wary of being typecast as a teen actor, Ledger took time out before landing the more serious role of Gabriel in war drama The Patriot (2000), with Mel Gibson.

It was the start of what would become a diverse run of roles, not all of which were well received.

Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain
Ledger stars in Brokeback Mountain with Jake Gyllenhaal

Popcorn movie A Knights Tale, in which Ledger played a medieval peasant to gallant knight, earned him column inches and the attention of casting directors.

And while his part in the Oscar-winning Monster's Ball - with Billy Bob Thornton and Halle Berry was well received - his follow up roles in The Four Feathers, ghoulish horror The Sin Eater and biopic Ned Kelly all met with a negative reception from critics and filmgoers alike.

Not long afterwards he began filming fictional comedy adventure The Brothers Grimm, with Matt Damon, directed by former Monty Python star Terry Gilliam.

Filming was beset with problems and it eventually opened - months behind schedule - at the Venice Film Festival in September.

His two other films - Casanova and Brokeback Mountain - also opened at the world-renowned festival.

Best actor award wins from:
New York Film Critics Circle
San Francisco Film Critics Circle
Best actor nominations from:
Golden Globes
Satellite Awards
Screen Actors Guild Awards

Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain, which focuses on the relationship that unfolds between two young men, a rodeo cowboy and a ranch hand, is Ledger's career pinnacle to date.

His role as the inarticulate and volatile Ennis has brought him heaps of praise and award nominations to boot.

E Annie Proulx, who wrote Brokeback Mountain, has spoken of her admiration at his performance.

"Heath Ledger erased the image I had when I wrote it," she said.

"He was so visceral. How did this actor get inside my head so well? He understood more about the character than I did."


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