LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Hollywood legend Mel Gibson led the tributes to Heath Ledger on Tuesday after the talented young Australian actor was found dead in New York.
Oscar-winning actor-director Gibson — who cast Ledger to play his son in 2001’s US war of independence epic “The Patriot” — described the 28-year-old actor’s death as “tragic” in a statement.
“I had such great hope for him,” Gibson said in the statement. “He was just taking off and to lose his life at such a young age is a tragic loss. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”
Australian screen star Nicole Kidman echoed Gibson’s comments in a statement released to syndicated US television entertainment show “Extra.”
“What a tragedy. My heart goes out to his family,” Kidman said.
Hollywood star John Travolta, in Australia to attend a benefit dinner, described Ledger as “one of my favorite actors.”
“His abilities are rare…it’s a tremendous loss,” Travolta told “Extra.” “It’s hard to be here celebrating Australia under these circumstances.”
Studio giants Warner Bros. said the entertainment industry had lost a “brilliant actor and an exceptional person.”
Ledger, the Oscar-nominated star of gay cowboy drama “Brokeback Mountain,” had recently completed filming on Warners’ upcoming summer blockbuster “The Dark Knight,” in which he plays Batman’s arch-foe the Joker.
“The studio is stunned and devastated by this tragic news,” Warner Bros chief Alan Horn and Warner Bros Picture Group president Jeff Robinov said in a statement.
“The entertainment community has lost an enormous talent. Heath was a brilliant actor and an exceptional person. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.”
Ledger was found dead in a New York residence earlier Tuesday. Police sources told US media that prescription pills were found near the body and that signs pointed to either an accidental overdose or suicide.
I am so sad to hear this news :(. I liked him alot in 10 Things I Hate About You.