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Heath Ledger Biography:

Already something of an established actor in his native Australia, Heath Ledger first came to the attention of American audiences in 1999 with his winning turn in the teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You. Playing the rebellious Patrick Verona in the update of The Taming of the Shrew, Ledger managed to arouse many an adolescent hormone with his thorny, charismatic performance.

Born in Perth, Western Australia on April 4, 1979, Ledger first became interested in acting while attending the all-boys Guilford Grammar School. He began his career performing onstage with the Guildford Theatre Company and was soon appearing in substantial roles on Australian television shows. The 1996 series Sweat featured him as a gay cyclist, while the following year's Roar cast him as a medieval Celtic prince--and also won him the beginnings of a fan base. After moving across the Pacific to Los Angeles, Ledger landed his lead role in 10 Things I Hate About You opposite Julia Stiles in 1999. The movie proved to be a summer hit, and it succeeded in introducing Ledger to a legion of new fans. That same year, he starred in Two Hands, an Australian action comedy that cast him as a Sydney teenager who finds himself in debt to an underworld kingpin, played by Bryan Brown. The film premiered at that year's Sundance Film Festival. Following a prominant role in Roland Emmerich's The Patriot (2000), Ledger brought Excalibur sensabilities into the new millenium with A Knight's Tale (2001). With its tradition shattering blend of modern slang and music balanced with the classic tale of jousting mayhem, A Knight's Tale served as an exciting star vehicle for the popular young actor. The young actor also garnered a fair amount of praise for his supporting role as a deeply depressed prison employee in the Oscar-winning film Monsters Ball (2001).

Though the film did not fare well critically or otherwise, Ledger nonetheless proved himself a versatile actor in The Four Feathers (2002), in which he starred as a cowardly officer-in-training who resigns from the British Army shortly before being shipped off to Sudan. In the same vein, though The Order (2003) was shunned by critics, Ledger was praised for his intense performance as a tortured, knowledge-seeking priest. Australia's Ned Kelly (2003) features a then 24-year-old Heath in the title role of sixteen-year-old outlaw Ned Kelly, and places him among a skilled cast including Six Feet Under star and fellow Australian Rachel Griffiths, the Oscar-winning Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, and Naomi Watts.

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