''I haven't talked about it until now. I'm really nervous,'' says actor Wes Bentley, chain-smoking outside a Los Angeles restaurant. Bentley was one of Heath Ledger's closest friends. They costarred in 2002's The Four Feathers and shared the same agent, along with a taste for mischief and a wariness of Hollywood's star-making machinery. Even now, a year after Ledger was found dead in his New York apartment, it's hard for Bentley to believe he's gone.
On Jan. 22 the anniversary of the actor's passing Hollywood will unveil this year's Academy Award nominees, and Ledger is considered a lock to secure a posthumous Best Supporting Actor nod for his performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight. To mark the occasion, Entertainment Weekly reached out to dozens of Ledger's friends and collaborators in the industry many of whom haven't spoken publicly about his death until now to compile an oral history of his fascinating but sadly abbreviated film career. The surprising portrait that emerges offers new insight into this complicated artist, an actor who stayed true to his adventurous instincts while attempting to navigate the perilous waters of stardom.
Image Credit: Ben Watts/Corbis Outline
A year after his tragic death, and on the eve of an Oscar nomination for ''The Dark Knight,'' friends and colleagues reveal new details about the talented young actor -- and share some unforgettable stories