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Heath Ledger’s Father Looks Back at the Actor’s ‘Bittersweet’ Posthumous Oscar Win

Gone but never forgotten. In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the late Heath Ledger’s father, Kim Ledger, looked back on the moment his son won his first Oscar in 2009, but wasn’t there to accept it.

Sally Ledger, Kim Ledger and Kate Ledger
Sally Ledger, Kim Ledger and Kate Ledger after accepting Heath Ledger’s award for Best Supporting Actor for ‘The Dark Night’ at the 81st Annual Academy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre on Feb. 22, 2009, in Los Angeles.

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“Bittersweet is probably the best way I can describe that night. It was only a year and a month since his passing,” Kim explained. “We hadn’t got our heads around the tragedy of losing him, but at the same time, he was receiving such accolades for what he knew was his best work.”

The star, who died in 2008 at age 28 of an accidental drug overdose of prescription medications, won the award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as the Joker in The Dark Knight. In the show’s decades-long history, he is only one of two actors to win an Academy Award posthumously. The first was Peter Finch in 1976. 

Heath Ledger as The Joker in 'The Dark Knight'
Heath Ledger as The Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’

Of the countless honors the actor received throughout his career, Kim noted that acknowledgment from the Academy was his son’s most sought-after career goal.

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“It was peer recognition that was important to Heath,” added Kim, who accepted the trophy on his son’s behalf. “And the Oscar was the epitome of that.” Ledger’s mother, Sally, and sister, Kate, also attended the ceremony to show their support.

The golden statuette, which currently sits at the Western Australian Museum in Perth as part of a Heath Ledger exhibit, has been promised to Ledger’s only child, Matilda, 10. Kim revealed that any and all memorabilia from Ledger’s career belongs to the daughter he shared with his Brokeback Mountain costar Michelle Williams.

Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams
Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams at the 78th Annual Academy Awards on March 5, 2006.

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“Michelle is aware the Oscar remains secured with the museum,” Kim said. “At the end of the day, everything is there for Matilda, and when she can take possession of it, it’s all hers.”

Ledger’s family continues to keep his memory alive through their involvement with the Heath Ledger Scholarship — a program that recognizes and rewards the talent of an Australian thespian each year.

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