For his portrayal of Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain, Ledger won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor and Best International Actor from the Australian Film Institute, and was nominated for the BAFTA Award and for the Academy Award for Best Actor. Posthumously he shared the 2007 Independent Spirit Robert Altman Award with the rest of the ensemble cast, the director, and the casting director for the film I'm Not There, which was inspired by the life and songs of American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. In the film, Ledger portrayed a fictional actor named Robbie Clark, one of six characters embodying aspects of Dylan's life and persona.
Ledger died on 22 January 2008 from an accidental "intoxication from prescription drugs".A few months before his death, Ledger had finished filming his performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight. His death occurred during editing of The Dark Knight and in the midst of filming his last role as Tony in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. His untimely death cast a truly sombre shadow over the subsequent promotion of the $180 million Batman production. Ledger received numerous accolades for his critically acclaimed performance in the film, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, a Best Actor International Award at the 2008 Australian Film Institute Awards, for which he became the first actor to win an award posthumously, the 2008 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor, the 2009 Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture and the 2009 BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Ledger was an avid chess player, winning Western Australia's junior chess championship at the age of 10. As an adult, he often played with other chess enthusiasts at Washington Square Park.Allan Scott's film adaptation of the chess-related 1983 novel The Queen's Gambit, by Walter Tevis, which at the time of his death he was planning to both perform in and direct, would have been Ledger's first feature film as a director
At about 2:45 pm (EST), on 22 January 2008, Ledger was found unconscious in his bed by his housekeeper, Teresa Solomon, and his masseuse, Diana Wolozin, in his fourth-floor loft apartment at 421 Broome Street in the SoHo neighbourhood of Manhattan. According to the police, Wolozin, who had arrived early for a 3:00 pm appointment with Ledger, called Ledger's friend, actress Mary-Kate Olsen, for help. Olsen, who was in California, directed a New York City private security guard to go to the scene. At 3:26 pm, "[Fewer] than 15 minutes after Wolozin first saw him in bed and only a few moments" after first calling Olsen and then calling her a second time to express her fears that Ledger was dead, Wolozin telephoned 9-1-1 "to say that Mr. Ledger was not breathing." At the urging of the 9-1-1 operator, Wolozin administered CPR, which was unsuccessful in reviving him.
Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) arrived seven minutes later, at 3:33 pm ("at almost exactly the same moment as a private security guard summoned by Ms. Olsen"), but were also unable to revive him. At 3:36 pm, Ledger was pronounced dead and his body was removed from the apartment