Heath Ledger, had he lived, would have been 33 now. When you consider the current crop of Hollywood wonder boys – the three Ryans, (Ryan Gosling, Ryan Philippe and Ryan Reynolds), Bradley Cooper or Ben Affleck – it's hard not to ache at the omission of his name from the list. His death five years ago on January 22, 2008, left a wound in the heart of fans that has never quite healed. Today, admirers remember the Australian actor, who was one part surfer dude, four parts movie star, through his 19 films, ranging from his last role playing the Joker in Batman movie The Dark Knight, to popular teen flick Ten Things I Hate about You, and the poignantly ground-breaking Brokeback Mountain.
Heath's living legacy also includes his seven-year-old daughter Matilda, now being brought up by her mother, actress Michelle Williams. Just recently his parents Kim and Sally spoke about their fondness for their grandchild and the "wonderful relationship" they share with the little girl and her mum, who is based in New York. "She has the same walk as Heath and is such a respectful little kid," Kim told Australian magazine New Idea. "Matilda is indeed very much like her dad," agreed Sally. "However, she also possesses the beauty of her [mother] – lucky girl!"
The proud grandparents – who in 2009 collected their son's posthumous Oscar for The Dark Knight – also opened up about the grief they still feel over his untimely death. "It has been an extremely difficult five years as not a day goes by when we don't feel the immense loss of Heath," said Sally. They are not the only ones. In his short career, Heath worked with some of Hollywood's finest, from Mel Gibson to Jeremy Irons, Matt Damon, Billy Bob Thornton and Sean 'Diddy' Combs. And they all loved him. They loved him for his skill and charisma on screen and for his generosity and affability once the cameras stopped rolling.
Daniel Day-Lewis summed up the late actor's appeal when he dedicated an award to the Antipodean talent shortly after his death. Speaking of Brokeback Mountain, which was a heartbreaking tale of homosexual love, he said: "That scene in the trailer at the end of film is as moving as anything that I think I've ever seen. He was unique, he was perfect." Click here to take a look back at some of Heath Ledger's finest moments.