Director Shares Heartbreaking New Details About Heath Ledger’s Death

NIki Nikolova
NIki Nikolova

During a podcast appearance hosted by author Malcolm Gladwell, director and screenwriter Stephen Gaghan revealed heartbreaking new details about Heath Ledger’s death.

Ledger, 28, was found dead in his bed in Jan. 2008 due to a deadly mix of alcohol and substances, a tragedy that authorities ruled an accident. The actor had a copy of Gladwell’s book on his nightstand and Gaghan’s screenplay next to him, Gaghan emotionally recalled.

The Oscar-winning director said he was stunned to receive a call from Ledger’s father, Kim Ledger, who phoned shortly after arriving at the scene where Ledger died.

“I got a phone call, they were on speaker phone, and it was Heath Ledger’s father, who I had never met,” Gaghan said. “Our script was in bed with him, and your book was on the bedside table,” he told Gladwell.

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Gaghan said he believed Ledger’s father and another family friend who accompanied him had dialed his number, which was on the script, in shock after finding the actor’s body.

“I just collapsed,” Gaghan said, after learning the news. “My feet just went out from under me.”

The details were revealed while Gaghan recounted the development process for a movie that was never made, a screen adaptation of Gladwell’s book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. Gaghan envisioned Ledger as the leading actor in the project, even though the role was initially intended for Leonardo DiCaprio, who was much more famous at the time.

Gaghan said he was won over by Ledger’s personal charm after meeting him by chance.

“I’d met Heath Ledger and I’d gotten to be very, very close with him, like instantly. I’d just had a real connection with him that was kinda unusual and really special to me. I got really excited, and I started seeing him as the main character,” Gaghan recalled.

“I had a feeling that I, I just love this guy, and I was gonna make a bunch of movies with him,” Gaghan said.

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