Heath Ledger, Actor, Father Actor Heath Ledger was found dead Tuesday at age 28 in his Manhattan apartment.
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Heath Ledger, Actor, Father

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Heath Ledger, Actor, Father

Heath Ledger, Actor, Father

Heath Ledger, Actor, Father

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Actor Heath Ledger was found dead Tuesday at age 28 in his Manhattan apartment.

BILL WOLFF (Announcer): From NPR News in New York, this is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT.

(Soundbite of music)

TOURE, host:

It's the aforementioned BRYANT PARK PROJECT. It's news. It's information. It's guest-hosted today by me, Toure.

(Soundbite of movie, "Superbad")

Mr. CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE (Actor): (As Fogell) Gangtas, what's up guys?


Oh, McLovin, McLovin, McLovin. Why "Superbad" didn't get an Oscar nod yesterday, don't know.

TOURE: Ah, I was looking.

(Soundbite of laughter)

TOURE: Supporting actor. It got to be Christopher Mintz-Plasse. It got to be Christopher - how can he not be there?

STEWART: How can McLovin not be nominated?

TOURE: That was his first movie. That was his first audition.

STEWART: Unbelievable. My favorite movie of the year. Yeah.

I'm Alison Stewart.

Good morning. It is Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008.

That and "Persepolis." That's my other - that did get nominated for best animated feature.

TOURE: And "Persepolis" was awesome.

STEWART: Really good film. If you haven't seen it, you should.

TOURE: But you must see "There Will Be Blood."

STEWART: I've not seen that yet.

TOURE: Oh, that was awesome.


TOURE: Oh, it deserves everything. Daniel Day-Lewis is winning. P.T. Anderson is winning. They're going home with all the big awards. But that's not what we're talking about today.

Coming up on the show, the man who's really in charge in Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, he gave Iran's President Ahmadinejad some stern orders this week. Barbara Slavin from USA Today is here to draw us the lines of power in Iran.

STEWART: Literature for cell phones - big in Japan, as they say - now getting some attention here in the States. We'll talk with a cell phone novelist.

TOURE: And the place where fancy food starts - my man Marcel from "Top Chef" was sure to be there - the International Gastronomy Summit in Madrid, Spain. Food meets science and comes into your mouth, and then it comes to your local restaurant.

We're going to go to the pulchritudinous Rachel Martin for today's headlines in just a minute.

But first, it's the BPP's Big Story.

(Soundbite of music)

TOURE: Academy Award nominee Heath Ledger is dead. According to reports, the 28-year-old Australian actor's body was found Tuesday afternoon, facedown at the foot of a bed in a Manhattan apartment he'd been renting.

STEWART: A bottle of sleeping pills was found next to the bed, but the cause of death remains unknown. Please do not suspect foul play. Ledger's body was discovered by a housekeeper and a masseuse, who had a regular appointment with him. Ledger's father, Kim Ledger, addressed the media yesterday outside the family home in Perth in Western Australia.

Mr. KIM LEDGER (Heath Ledger's Father): He was a down-to-earth, generous, kindhearted, life-loving, unselfish individual who was extremely inspirational to many.

TOURE: Mr. Ledger also called his son's death tragic, untimely and accidental. Heath leaves behind a 2-year-old daughter, Matilda. Her mother is his former fiancee, American actress Michelle Williams, who played his wife in "Brokeback Mountain." The couple lived in Brooklyn, but separated last September.

By accounts of neighbors, Ledger was a doting dad. And here, he talks about fatherhood in a 2005 interview with The AP.

(Soundbite of archive interview)

Mr. HEATH LEDGER (Actor): It's definitely my greatest achievement. And I now feel kind of connected to something a lot bigger than me, and it's beautiful. There's something cosmic about it.

STEWART: Ledger jumped on to the Hollywood radar when he starred in a 1999 teen film "10 Things I Hate About You." He joined the A-list and showed what a great actor he was in 2005 with his portrayal of a gay cowboy in "Brokeback Mountain." That's where he got his Oscar nod.

TOURE: As the news of Ledger's death broke yesterday afternoon, the hype machine went into overdrive. Celebrity-tracking sites like Gawker and dlisted.com quickly became jammed with traffic. It was the top story on Drudge.com. Fans and paparazzi flocked to the SoHo apartment building where he was living. And TMZ.com even offered a live video stream of the circus growing outside the building. And, of course, rumors began to fly.

First, there were reports that the apartment belong to Mary Kate Olsen. That's not true. Then there was a lot of confusion over exactly where Ledger was found, in the bed, on the floor.

STEWART: The best reports thus far tell us that the housekeeper and the masseuse initially found Heath Ledger in bed, but then moved him to the floor while trying to revive him. That's why police found the actor on the floor.

TOURE: An autopsy is scheduled for today, according to the Medical Examiner's Office.

STEWART: Funeral arrangements have not been announced. Ledger was in the process of filming a movie with Terry Gilliam called "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus." And he had recently completed filming the new Batman film, "The Dark Knight," in which he played The Joker. The movie is scheduled to come out this summer, and it could be quite a bit macabre to watch him play the tormented villain.

TOURE: It could be also very sad, seeing him bring such life to this great role…


TOURE: …and not be here to enjoy the spoils.

And that's the BPP's Big Story.

And now, the winsome Rachel Martin with more news.

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