Heath Ledger portrayal of Batman’s maniacal arch-enemy The Joker in The Dark Night had nothing to do with his death, according to the actor’s sister.
The Australian star died after taking an accidental prescription drug overdose at the age of 28 in 2008, just a few months after wrapping his Academy Award-winning turn as the villain of director Christopher Nolan’s Batman film.
The timing of his death sparked rumors suggesting his portrayal of The Joker messed with Heath’s mind and caused such severe stress and depression in Ledger’s life, it contributed to his demise, but his older sister Kate Ledger doesn’t buy the theory.
“Honestly, that’s been the biggest thing for us as a family,” Kate tells USA Today. “He (Heath) had an amazing sense of humor and certainly playing The Joker, for him it was one big gag.
“He had so much fun doing that. It was actually the exact opposite. There was no doom and gloom… That was a shock to me that people even thought that, really.”
Kate is currently promoting the new documentary I Am Heath Ledger, which was released in theaters on Wednesday (03May17), and she reveals part of the reason why her brother’s surviving relatives were so keen to make the film was to dismiss The Joker rumors for good.
I Am Heath Ledger producer and co-director Derik Murray explains, “Like many of us, we read all sorts of insinuations online that Heath Ledger was taken down this dark spiral path to the depths of depression from his role as The Joker. This is the reason why we lost this bright star so early in his life. What was incredible, what was really quite amazing is that the truth behind that is so polar opposite.”