Heath Ledger Wins First ‘The Dark Knight’ Award From Australian Film Institute

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CHICAGO – With the 80th-annual Academy Awards set for Feb. 22, 2009 and Oscar nominations to be announced on Jan. 22, 2009, the late actor Heath Ledger on Saturday was awarded his first acting honor from the Australian Film Institute (AFI) for his supporting role as The Joker in “The Dark Knight”. Australia is his home country.

Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight
Heath Ledger as The Joker in “The Dark Knight”.
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

The AFI awarded Ledger – who died at the age of 28 of an accidental painkiller overdose in New York on Jan. 22, 2008 – one of its most prestigious awards: the international award for best actor.

The award ceremony was held at Melbourne’s Princess Theater. The award for Heath Ledger was accepted by his sister, Kate Ledger, and his family. The AFI said at its 50th-annual awards ceremony that Ledger was a “groundbreaking actor trapped in the body of a leading man. He was the untamed spirit many of us wish we could be. May the legend live on.”

“It has been without a doubt the most difficult year – losing such a loved family member,” Kate Ledger said at the AFI ceremony. “We are so proud of him and humbly accept this award on behalf of his beautiful daughter, Matilda, who we will cherish forever.”

For a woman in a lead role, Cate Blanchett won the equivalent AFI award for her role in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”. In addition to his role in “The Dark Knight,” Ledger is also remembered for his Oscar-nominated role as a gay cowboy in 2005’s “Brokeback Mountain”.

HollywoodChicago.com editor-in-chief Adam Fendelman


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