Jan. 22 will mark the one year anniversary of Heath Ledger‘s death from an accidental overdose of prescription medications. To memorialize their friend, the late actor’s closest friends are finally speaking up about him.
In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Ledger’s pals open up about his last days, how he was as a father to Matilda and his fear of fame.
"I haven’t talked about it until now. I’m really nervous," says Wes Bentley, one of Heath’s closest friends. The two co-starred in 2002’s The Four Feathers. "Heath’s fun clouded it’s way through a room. It was infectious…Some people think he’d party too much and take drugs. That wasn’t the case. It was young energy. He was high off life."
Heath’s c0-star in 10 Things I Hate About You, Julia Stiles, recalls the actor’s aversion to becoming Hollywood’s "it-boy."
"Heath always seemed so mature," she says. "I got the sense that he was averse to becoming any kind of teen idol. I think he felt like 10 Things had more substance, but he anticipated that if he did more movies like this, he’d get stuck doing teen romantic comedies."
Skip ahead to 2007–Heath had scored big with his controversial and acclaimed role as a gay cowboy in BrokeBack Mountain, he’d met, fallen in love and become engaged to his co-star in the film, Michelle Williams and the two now had a daughter, Matilda.
It was during this time, when his relationship with Williams began to fall apart, that friends say they became worried about the actor.
"All of us who were close to Heath knew what was going on, and it was not the most pleasant experience," says Terry Gilliam, who directed Heath in Brothers Grimm. "He was obsessed with his daughter. She became the center of his thoughts. The insomnia was really getting to him. He’d arrive in the morning looking really shattered. I’d say, ‘Let’s take it easy because you’re knackered.’ And he’d say, ‘No, let’s go.’"
Director Catherine Hardwicke adds, "The pressure he was under, with his family, his daughter, everything, would stress out any yogi," she say. "You’re being buffeted and pulled and tempted and flown across the ocean back and forth–how does anybody survive that? Obviously a lot of people don’t."