The MTV Movie Awards is typically known for its light, outrageous moments. Yet last night's ceremony proved to be emotional for actor Christian Bale: While presenting the latest trailer for The Dark Knight Rises, Bale became noticeably choked up when clips featuring the late Heath Ledger were shown. The Oscar winning actor took a minute to compose himself before telling the audience: Wow, great to remember Heath at that moment. Wonderful to see Heath Ledger there.
The touching moment recalls the shocking tragedy of Ledger's accidental death. Though it's been over four years now, Hollywood is still reeling from the loss. As Bale's impromptu MTV Awards tribute reminded us all, The Dark Knight actor has not been forgotten.
Here's a look back at the tragedy of Ledger's sudden death.
January 22, 2008: Ledger is discovered unconscious in his SoHo apartment by his housekeeper and masseuse. Less than an hour after he is found, the 28-year-old actor is pronounced dead. Though the exact cause of his death is unclear, a New York Times interview released a few months earlier provided possible clues. In the piece by Sara Lyhall, Ledger talks openly about his excessive pill consumption and crippling lack of sleep. He reveals:
Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night. ... I couldn't stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going. Astonishingly he candidly disclosed the stupor he endured after taking Ambien.
In an eerily prophetic statement, Ledger revealed that following the filming of The Tree of Life, he was going to drop dead.
I do the Terrence Malick movie right after that, Tree of Life, and then I'll drop to the ground, dead, for a year and hibernate.
The Oscar nominated film is released four years later with Brad Pitt taking over Ledger's role.
January 27, 2008: In his Best Actor acceptance speech at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Daniel Day Lewis dedicates his award to Ledger. For as long as I can remember, the thing that gave me a sense of wonderment and renewal ... has always been the work of other actors. Heath Ledger gave that to me.
February 2, 2008: Michele Williams, Ledger's former girlfriend and mother of his daughter Matilda Rose, releases her first public statement on Ledger's death. Please respect our need to grieve privately,'' Williams pleads. My heart is broken. I am the mother of the most tender-hearted, high-spirited, beautiful little girl who is the spitting image of her father. All that I can cling to is his presence inside her that reveals itself every day.''
February 6, 2008: The Chief Medical Examiner of New York releases the results of Ledger's autopsy. Mr. Heath Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine. As for the exact cause of death, the report maintains: We have concluded that the manner of death is accident, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications.
February 18, 2008: Jude Law's spokeswoman reveals to BBC News that Law, Johnny Depp, and Colin Farrell are set to take over Ledger's role in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Prior to his death Ledger had filmed only a portion of his role in the Terry Gilliam fantasy. All three actors agree to donate their earnings from the film to Ledger's daughter Matilda.
March 18th 2008: Christopher Nolan comments on The Dark Knight, in which Ledger portrays the iconic Joker. He tells MTV:
It was tremendously emotional, right when he passed, having to go back in and look at him every day. But the truth is, I feel very lucky to have something productive to do, to have a performance that he was very, very proud of, and that he had entrusted to me to finish.
Ledger's costar Christian Bale echoes the same sentiment:
Heath has given an incredible performance, a real definition of the character that I think will be incredibly memorable for years to come, Bale: I want to do nothing but celebrate his work.
June 27, 2008: It is announced that The Dark Knight will be dedicated to Ledger and special effects specialist Conway Wickliffe, who died in a car accident while prepping for one of the film's scenes.
July 14th 2008: The Dark Knight hits theaters and receives critical praise while shattering box office records. The film pulls in a whopping $155.3 million in its first three days of release. Many film critics, such as Roger Ebert believe Ledger's performance as The Joker is Oscar worthy.
February 22, 2009: Ledger becomes the second person in history to win an Academy Award posthumously. The coveted statue is awarded to the actor for his critically acclaimed performance in The Dark Knight. Ledger's family accepts the award on his behalf. Ironically, Ledger death occurred on the same day that the 2008 Oscar nominees were announced. A year later, on the anniversary of his death, his nomination for Best Supporting Actor was announced.
The award follows a slew of high profile honors including the Screen Actors Guild Award, Golden Globe, and BAFTA.
December 25th 2009: Ledgers final film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is released. The film, which initially debuts at Cannes, is a hit with European audiences. By the time the twisted fairytale is released in the US, it had already made a profit. Italian distribution chief Roberto Proia commented how Ledger contributed to the film's success:
Almost two years after his death, Ledger has a huge fan base which, along with the rest of the stellar cast, certainly contributed hugely.