He was a multi-talented heartthrob who left the world too soon. But in the short time that he lived, he filled everyone's life with love and joy, especially that of his daughter.
There are very few people who have the courage to live their lives with complete deliberation. They challenge themselves and want to live in each moment. Those are also the people who probably know exactly what gift will touch the heart of their loved ones. Late actor Heath Ledger, who brought alive the character of Joker in The Dark Knight, had fame, success, and the one thing he wanted to be since he was 17 — being an actor — but he still felt that fatherhood beat everything else, his family said.
Ledger had a two-year-old daughter with actress Michelle Williams, whom he met while working on the set of Ned Kelly in 2003, when he passed away due to accidental overdose due to prescription drugs.
While some sparks flew between Ledger and Williams in 2003, it wasn't until they started working on Brokeback Mountain that their relationship blossomed. It was pretty much a whirlwind romance and even before the release of the film the following year, their baby was on the way. The 28-year-old had been head over heels in love with Williams and his daughter. He believed that Williams was his soul mate and they had planned to have six children together, he told a magazine in 2005. Sadly, things didn't go according to plan.
They started dating while shooting and Ledger told his childhood friend Kane Manera soon after that he had a surprise. "I’m going to be a father," he told her. "He was so excited," added Kane. The 28-year-old had been head over heels in love with Williams and his daughter. He believed that Williams was his soul mate and they had planned to have six children together, he told a magazine in 2005. Sadly, things didn't go according to plan.
Their daughter, Matilda Rose, was born three months before the release of the film that shook the world with its portrayal of two homosexual cowboys, in October 2005. While Ledger was known to the world for his iconic roles in 10 Things I Hate About You, Brokeback Mountain, and The Dark Knight, to his family he was a thoughtful and fun person. To his daughter, he was the best dad.
He enjoyed every bit of the domestic bliss that fatherhood brought along. "It's exhausting, but its a pleasure waking up to your daughter. My duties in life are that I wake up, cook breakfast, clean the dishes, prepare lunch, clean those dishes, go to the market, get fresh produce, cook dinner, clean those dishes and then sleep if I can," he said when Matilda was just four weeks old. And I love it. I actually adore it," he had said soon after his daughter's birth in 2005, according to SMH.
His family had also known how much he enjoyed his new role. "Being a dad was his favorite thing he ever did," his sister, Ashleigh Bell, said, according to Refinery29. Ledger and Williams used to live in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn and the small family had a happy time there. His agent, Steve Alexander, said, "Blazing through New York with Matilda on his shoulders. That’s when he was totally happy."
Being a father also changed him professionally, "Fatherhood has changed me as an artist because I feel things on a deeper level. I think my performances will grow simultaneously."
Ledger, despite being private, gushed about his toddler calling her "adorable, and beautifully observant and wise." "Becoming a father exceeds all my expectations. It’s the remarkable experience I’ve ever had-it’s marvelous," he had said, according to PEOPLE.
The multi-talented actor, who was just at ease in front of the camera as he was behind it, had a beautiful idea for a gift to his daughter. He sent a grand piano to his musician friend Ben Harper and asked him to write a lullaby for his then-unborn child. He created the song Happy Ever After in Your Eyes and it will bring tears to your eyes.
Ledger's entire estate, the song, and hundreds of home videos he made from an early age are left for 11-year-old Matilda, who was only two when her 28-year-old father passed away. In fact, Ledger used the home videos to improve his acting skills as he had no formal training. His sister Kate said, according to Refinery29, that he used to record himself performing, play back, and then improve on it. He was also passionate about photography.
"He was more than just the celebrity persona that people saw. He was really multi-talented and just a beautiful soul, and I think that really comes through the film," said Kate. The documentary she made about him was also a gift for her niece, who was loved dearly by her brother. It is a fitting homage to a man who saw being a father a bigger achievement than being an actor.