29 JANUARY 2008

The family of Hollywood star Heath Ledger are expected to lay to rest the star - who passed away last Tuesday - in his hometown of Perth, according to reports in the Australian press. In a message read out at an Australian event in New York over the weekend, the actor's father, Kim Ledger, emphasised: "Heath is and always will be an Australian".

He also painted a vivid personal picture of his talented son. "Heath did not become an actor for the fame or fortune," he wrote. "He loved his craft and he loved helping his friends. He loved chess and skateboarding too. My image of Heath in New York is him with his skateboard, a canvas bag and his beanie. That was Heath to me."

Family and close friends, including Heath's former girlfriend Naomi Watts, gathered in LA on Saturday night for a private 30-minute remembrance service at Westwood Village Memorial Park.

Meanwhile tributes continue to pour in for the Brokeback Mountain actor. Christopher Nolan who recently directed Heath in Batman sequel The Dark Knight, told Newsweek magazine: "Heath was bursting with creativity. It was in his every gesture. He once told me that he liked to wait between jobs until he was creatively hungry. Until he needed it again. He brought that attitude to our set every day."

He also recalled how the talented 28-year-old would often come onto set on his days off, and thanked every member of the crew when they worked late so he could perfect a scene. The director is now editing the movie which is due out in July. "I see him every day in my edit suite. I study his face, his voice. And I miss him terribly."

Christopher Plummer, who was filming alongside Heath in The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus, the movie the Aussie star never finished, has said director Terry Gilliam plans to go ahead with the movie. "I can very much understand why," says Christopher. "Because he wants to dedicate it to Heath, of course." Recalling last moments with his young co-star the veteran actor said Heath was "in very high spirits. He was just enjoying himself tremendously". He confirmed Heath had been unwell with a cold and "he was saying all the time, 'Dammit, I can't sleep...' and he was taking all these pills (to help him)".

Heath's former partner Michelle Williams, mother of their two-year-old daughter Matilda, has put on hold her next project, Blue Valentine. "We will hold off until she is ready," a source connected with the movie told People magazine. "The production is in the process of sorting it out in respect to her."

Photo: © Alphapress.com
Heath's family and friends continue to pay tribute to the young Australian actor's talents as reports in his homeland suggest he will be laid to rest in his native PerthPhoto: © Getty Images
Photo: © Alphapress.com
Fans have erected their own memorials to the actor outside his New York home, featuring Australian flags, candles and flowers Photo: © Getty Images
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