Hollywood film star Heath Ledger was found dead Tuesday afternoon in a downtown Manhattan apartment. Police believe drugs may have been a factor in the 28-year-old Brokeback Mountain star's death. Ledger leaves behind a two-year old daughter, Matilda Ledger, with ex-fiancée Michelle Williams.
New York City police officials told reporters Ledger was found naked and unconscious in the bedroom of an apartment at 421 Broome Street in SoHo when a housekeeper went in to let him know his masseuse had arrived for a scheduled appointment.
The housekeeper and masseuse reportedly shook the actor, and after he didn’t respond they called the authorities, according to the New York Times. When paramedics arrived on the scene, they attempted to perform CPR on Ledger, but were unable to revive him. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
NYPD officials believe drugs may have been a factor in the Brokeback Mountain star's death, according to the New York Times. Police are reporting what appeared to be over-the-counter sleeping pills were found around a bed near the actor's body, but have not specified if other pills were found, according to CNN.
"We are investigating the possibility of an overdose," police spokesman Paul Browne told Reuters. No visible signs of trauma were found on Ledger's body and police do not currently suspect foul play. A possible suicide has not been ruled out at this time. An autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow, according to TMZ.com.
CNN reports that Ledger was so troubled about his role as the Joker in the upcoming film The Dark Night that he was sleeping only two hours a night and was taking Ambien but that it was not working and he still could not sleep.
The apartment where Ledger was found is reportedly owned by Mary-Kate Olsen, according to TMZ.com, though this is unconfirmed. The Observer stated Gustavo Medeiros, who owns a space in the building, had seen Ledger a few times, but had never seen Olsen at the apartment.
Olsen, who owns reportedly owns the apartement, is currently in California. Police said they do not know why Ledger was in her apartment. As news spread about Ledger's death, a large crowd of paparazzi and mourners gathered outside the apartment, according to NewsDay.com.
A native of Perth, Australia, Ledger first gained the attention of U.S. moviegoers when he appeared in 10 Things I Hate About You, a comedic retelling of The Taming of the Shrew.
Ledger was nominated for an Academy Award in 2005 for his role as a gay cowboy in the Ang Lee directed film Brokeback Mountain, based on a short story by E. Annie Proulx. The actor met his ex-fiancée, Michelle Williams, on the set of the critically acclaimed film. The couple had a daughter, Matilda, before separating last year.
In a statement released this afternoon, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation said: “Heath Ledger will forever be remembered for his groundbreaking role as Ennis del Mar in Brokeback Mountain. His powerful portrayal changed hearts and minds in immeasurable ways. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”
Ledger currently can be seen channeling Bob Dylan in I'm Not There, and in the upcoming film The Dark Night, a sequel to 2005's Batman Begins.
Alan Horn, President and COO of Warner Bros. and Jeff Robinov, President, Warner Bros. Pictures Group released a statement to TMZ.com this afternoon: "The studio is stunned and devastated by this tragic news. The entertainment community has lost an enormous talent. Heath was a brilliant actor and an exceptional person. Our hearts go out to his family and friends."